I hope your families are able to be together. Merry Christmas and try to stay healthy.
I hope your families are able to be together. Merry Christmas and try to stay healthy.
Sorry the blog went up late today. It isn't going to be a good Christmas for us.
So in a moment before the next mini-emergency that life throws at us, a lovely giveaway! A whole bunch of metal threads (faux) from various makers. Fun to add sparkle to some project you are doing - especially Christmas ornaments.
To get in on the Giveaway - email me at email@example.com with SPARKLE in the subject line.
Email your address for if you win and send by midnight of Dec 24th!!
Doing this giveaway is a perfect experiment in reading instructions. I would say 25% of the entries are missing the address! As stitchers who read my blog tend not to be daily readers of their email and sometimes not even weekly readers of email, I don't chase down winners to get an address as it just isn't practical. Second most common error is omitting your country if from somewhere other than the US. :-) But I do enjoy the 'hellos' that are in those emails as that is the most likely content. :-)
If you are interested - send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with KREINIK JEWELS in the subject line.
Then add your full address so I can mail it if you win. Many people forget this step making the odds better for others...
Send it by midnight on the 22nd of December to enter
If you are interested in the postcard set:
1. Please send me an email to: email@example.com
2. Put SAMPLER in the subject line
3. Add your name and address because I won't be looking you up. :-)
Send by midnight EST Dec 21st.
If you are a Halloween person, this giveaway will be for you. Four Just Cross Stitch issues concentrating on the Fall/Halloween holiday. If you are interested in this scary set - send a email with HALLOWEEN in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org and put your address in the body of the message. Send the email by midnight Dec 20th EST.
On the fifth day of Christmas we have three lovely colors of Maderia silk floss to giveaway.
If you are interested in this giveaway, send an email to email@example.com with LET IT SNOW in the subject line and your address in the body of the email by midnight EST on Dec 18th.
Whitework embroidery is something I really love and have loved since I was a teenager doing Hardanger. Today's giveaway is a set of cream silks for someone doing something wonderful in whitework!
If you are interested in the four skeins of Soie Cristale, here is how you can get in on the drawing:
1. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. CREAM in the subject line
3. Your address in the body of the message so I know where to send it!
Send it by midnight EST Dec 17th.
This January I am starting a session of my 17th Century Whitework Samplers course for 18-months. It is a very comprehensive class looking at all the techniques used in these types of band samplers as well as punta in aria works for collars and cuffs of the period.
The course is a mix of learning techniques, projects and designing your own whitework band sampler. You are given enough materials to work one to three small pieces of linen with trial stitches so you can feel confident with techniques and material choices. Then there are two sampler projects, each with one band of reticella to explore a mixed colored counted work band sampler with the cutwork. One is based on a sampler from the Winterthur Museum collection and the second is inspired from a favorite piece of mine in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. This piece is a unique example of colored silk threads being used for reticella and I think it is a unique project that combines ease of sight because of the colored threads but also technical challenges to hide the color changes and thus it provides a master class in this reticella technique on the whole.
The third project is a punta-in-aria length of lace. A fourth project can be worked, a band sampler of your own design based on all the materials we will be looking at, provided patterns, and the real 16th-17th century pattern books. In order to do this, the course is taking on the unique challenge that presented the 17th century teacher/embroiderer - the geometry and math of this type of work. When looking at band samplers, we will find that often the pattern didn’t quite fit the chosen width of the sampler the person had chosen to make and that had consequences that had to be filled in or not. It could make for awkward spots in an otherwise stunning piece. I wanted to solve that and answer the questions of how to scale the patterns, how wide to work the bands, over what count and if you were working all these bands with disparate scales of withdrawn threads, how to make them all fit exactly in the boundaries of the sampler without excess room left over in the band.
The course includes detailed photographs of at least five samplers to illustrate techniques. This will be augmented by Pintrest boards to go with the course as both a general reference and specific references in the course text to illustrate points.
Each technique will be accompanied by many patterns which can be cut and arranged and used directly as patterns for your personal sampler. I will also be giving guidance on how to convert many of the patterns found in the 16th-17th century pattern books to the correct scale so you can use them as well as how to look at a pattern and determine the best stitch choices and progression of working the pattern.
Choices of materials is a big part of this course. You have three linen counts that the course has been designed to use. A 30ct, 40ct, and a 53/55ct linen have been provided with enough of each to be used for two projects - the one I intended and your choice of which for the personal sampler. So the ambitious will have extra linen for other projects of this type or can repurpose it. Both silk and linen threads will be used for the samplers matching the thread to the original pieces.
The kits will include all three linens mentioned, silk threads, linen threads, needles, and special blue contact paper
If you are interested in the postcard set:
1. Please send me an email to: email@example.com
2. Put LAYTON in the subject line
3. Add your name and address because I won't be looking you up. :-) Send by midnight EST Dec 16th.
So today I thought I would also tell you about the Read-Only version of the Cabinet of Curiosities online course. I have roughly now 100 spots in it and it starts January 1st. The course is pretty comprehensive. Originally it came with two kits of threads in the historic color line and the materials for five small projects. As the supply chain makes that impossible to get large numbers of everything together all at once right now, I decided to put the course out there without the kits. Many people are taking one of my casket project classes and would like the historic background to the cabinets which is included in this
So what is in the course?
- Each month a topic regarding the history of the cabinets is explored very fully. That could be the small toys inside, the stories on the caskets, the background of the girls, the history of cabinets made before, etc.
- Every month is accompanied by weblinks to additional material that supports the historic discussion. We may be talking about the allegories and how to read them, so being directed to the same allegorical prints at the time would help recognize the devices used to signify that a woman on a side is "Touch" as an example. You become an expert in reading these 17th century pieces
- Each month has dozens of close pictures of historic cabinets from museum and private collections. More than 30 caskets are presented in this way - its like being there in the room and studying the embroidery and then opening the pieces and seeing inside.
- There are motif sets copied from unembroidered satins that were to be used for stumpwork, mirrors or caskets. You can use these to do your own designs. Then there are templates for the casket sets, full casket designs and sides. So if you have a home-wood worker and wanted the measurements to make a simple box and needed designs or wanted to design your own - there is plenty of helpful material here. Some people know they will never do a box but would love to have a design to stitch - say of a mermaid in a grotto. It's there.
- Four sets of project instructions for pincushions and scissors cases. And a full trinket box set of instructions. I still have about 50 trinket boxes for sale if you wanted to do the one in the course with your own threads.
- Finishing instructions/videos for caskets. If you make your own, you might not know how to mount the embroidery. There are full instructional videos for that.
If you don't have a cabinet and want to do one, I periodically get one back from a stitcher who has decided not to work hers. They are listed in the drop down menu for the course and can be purchased with the course for those who want to design their own.
To kick off the giveaway - I have a full kit for the alphabet bunny ensemble, including all the silk and velvet finishing materials.
To get into the drawing - send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with BUNNY in the subject line. Emails for this drawing will be accepted until Dec 15th at midnight EST. Include your full mailing address. I won't be chasing people down for their mailing instructions later as I like to only spend a day getting these giveaways out the door.
If you haven't been to the blog lately, scroll down for an amazing double casket finished by a student, Rebecca Pearson, in The Cabinet of Curiosities. Tomorrow I will talk about what is in that course which is now being rerun without a kit as a read-only course.
In the post previous, I talk about how we have let others sap the fun out of our embroidery and how we need to take that back by ignoring the nay-sayers. This was the subject of a Fiber-Talk podcast this fall. It is funny - after that Fiber-Talk podcast, I have noted an increase in students going back to their big projects with a new enthusiasm, realizing that they have let a feeling that others are judging them to interfere with their fun. Take a read and listen and shed the weights that keep us from loving what we love to do.
Rebecca Pearson has finished her uniquely designed and highly creative vision for a double casket. I asked her if I could post the pictures to the community as I just thought it was so inspired. You have to look for the magnificent butterflies in each arrangement like a modern Where's Waldo! Each one is unique and so beautifully done.
Her piece is worked on silk satin, which takes the difficulty level up as it isn't the most forgiving material and used wonderful silk shading on each of the petals and leaves of her stumpwork flowers. An imaginative use of trims to highlight the vases and internal panels follows.
I love the dimensional spray of flowers on the top. Many of us have thought or worked something raised on the top but I have never thought of a spray of flowers like this and I love the idea.
I wanted to excerpt part of what Rebecca said about her journey in making the casket as it is so much of what I wanted to happen when people choose to work their own pieces:
I have admired these cabinets for many years but never dreamed I would ever make one until you developed your class. From the very start of the class, I was propelled into quite a journey of discovery. The online classes were a journey through history as I learned who made these boxes and the historical significance of them. It was a journey of luxurious fabrics and unique threads and trims of all colors and types that will always be a thrill to the serious needleworker. Once I actually started to embroider the panels, it was a journey of sleepless nights wondering what the heck was I doing and why did I even think I could do this. It was a journey into creativity as new ideas, ones that I never thought of at the start, kept developing along the way. And lastly, I even amazed myself that I could actually see a discernible advancement of my technical skills by the end of this journey.
Rebecca added something to the inside of her casket that was so touching and such a gift to the future. She uniquely chose to embroider her full name, the date, location and the names of her husband and children - ensuring that future generations would absolutely be able to identify HER work in space and time unlike all the women whose creativity goes by anonymous. But even more she decided to embroider the name of the course and teacher as well as a thought on the opposite door. I was extremely honored and humbled to find myself inside her casket. But as I have been spending months deep in the primary sources doing genealogy trying to identify the who and how of the 17th century makers - Rebecca just left an enormous message to the future. Her casket is the equilivent of Hannah Smith's piece with its important letter inside - except that we still can't find Hannah anywhere. I hope Rebecca will inspire many of our other casketeers to place more clues to their identity in their boxes as well.
Congratulations Rebecca on the culmination of this journey with a piece that is now going to be a family treasure for generations.
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Front|
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Back|
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Left Side|
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Top|
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Inside|
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Inside with Sliding Panel Removed|
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Inside with Inscriptions|
|Rebecca Pearson's Double Casket - Right Side|
Teaching such large projects and having students who I converse with for about a decade over a series of projects, it is easy to note trends among stitchers that keep us from doing what we state we want to do. I have been having a long running conversation about this with Gary Parr from Fiber Talk and we decided to just 'go for it' and have the conversation as a podcast.
Brining Joy Back into Your Stitching by Banishing the Stitching Police
You know the comments. They are the self-defeating things we dig out of some dark place reflecting someone else's twisted idea of what should be. They range from the following:
In previous blogs I mentioned that I had put together a daily schedule of embroidery motifs to get done to keep me on track. Because of another project, I had a need to document that progress as well and so I put together a little hacked photo studio (not the best light..) to place my frame up and take a picture every day before I worked so a time lapse could be made of the progress.
Thought it might be interesting to see how these types of panels grow and also give a sneak peak of how the next two panels are turning out.
I have a new deadline that is six months shorter than my old deadline on my Four Seasons Double Casket project and so I have been making lists and stitching like crazy. Lots of time with the needle and it is producing fast (or sometimes what seems like agonizingly slow) results - why queen stitch!?.
Here is the current progress of the box. I was able to recently get the two large slop panels done and even apply the tapes to most of the top (reserving the absolute top tape for when the panel is done up there).
It was super fun to work the cornucopia representing the bounty of spring and summer. I have put a few pictures below close up to show the three dimensionality of them both.
The back has the lion and leopard and a really fun castle. I am right now doing the front doors who are also Spring and Summer. Progress has been fast as I am doing all the background and I assume it will slow down soon as I get to the multilayers of the figures with their large pieces of needlelace. I decided to do something different and take a photo of my progress every day to make a stop-motion of the stitching in progress to match my list making. So when the doors are finished in December, I will put that mini-film up!
There are still some kits left for those who want to take this course or who already have a double casket and want to buy the kits and instructions only for the box as a stitch-along.
Deerfield will be putting on a two-day virtual symposium this fall (October 22-23) and registration is still open. The official title of the symposium is: Skilled Hands and Cultivated Minds: Art and Education in the Early Republic. Needlework figures prominently in the talks. Here is the description of the event:
century, with dozens of academies founded to teach young men and women. Many offered a curriculum in English grammar, foreign languages, arithmetic, geography, and science including astronomy and natural philosophy. For additional fees, girls could take drawing, painting, embroidery, and other ornamental work. A few academies even rivaled the resources of universities by comprising museums, libraries, and expensive scientific equipment. Twice a year students demonstrated their newly acquired knowledge during a program of speeches, dialogues, and orations attended by parents, trustees, and townspeople. Workbooks displaying exercises, and special projects such as drawings, maps, needlework, and painted furniture prepared for school exhibitions survive in sizeable numbers and testify to the skills and at times budding activism of young learners.This two-day virtual forum brings together a dynamic roster of academic and museum professionals discussing the development of early New England academies, their goals and curricula, and the decorative and graphic arts produced. Lectures will include topics ranging from educating children in the New Republic, a survey of art from academies, ornamental arts at the Litchfield Female Academy, New England schoolgirl needlework, the creation of anti-slavery needlework by white schoolgirls, drawn and copied maps, scientific instruments (orreries, telescopes, microscopes, sextants, air pumps, etc.), and short talks by Historic Deerfield staff about objects from the collection.
The entire schedule of talks is available here. For registration go to here or:
We have been talking on NING among the casket makers about how it is so easy to get stymied by a big project. As everyone has been talking, I had forgotten that most people don't often take on enormous embroidery projects or likely very large projects in other aspects of their lives. It is my 'speciality'.
Since I was little, I often worked on very large embroideries for a youth competition or some sort of big project with many people. A PhD, writing research grants/running big product developments, and dealing with a new 9-12 month robotics competition build every year. All things that hone your ability to look up at some imagined skyscraper that needs to be built, which doesn't have a recipe book, and feel comfortable putting the first brick down for the foundation.
The key to this is LISTS. Lists are also the key to creativity but I will talk about that a different time (it is counter intuitive to people who aren't used to exercising creativity). The list is a way to both plan and off load your anxiety to a different place - it sits captured in the list. Every time my dyslexic kids start to hyperventilate and insist that they are just overloaded, I use this technique as well with them.
Take whatever you want to do and write down all the parts or tasks. Let's take an example of the Harmony Casket, starting with the parts first.
Apparently my identity as a female robotics coach is something to remember in the needlework field! As the stories of the Afghan Robotics Team, that had been lifted up as the ultimate symbol of female empowerment in Afghanistan, began to make newspapers during the last two weeks during the collapse and airlift, my inbox started filling up from stitchers.
It is heartwarming that everyone cares and I wholeheartedly applaud that. Some of you know that our own family was deeply affected by the collapse and evaluation in Saigon, which parallels this so closely. So the Afghan situation has been something we have been following as well. My husband was 10 when they had to make a secret and harrowing trip to the airport which was bombed overnight as they huddled under tin roof sheets in fox holes. Then another trip to get to the embassy grounds and the masses coming over the walls. My father-in-law was a translator and employee for the American embassy, and so had papers but the chaos of the situation had them holding the kids back as it was so easy to loose them. They only made it on one of the last helicopters after he astutely realized the Americans were going to leave and abandon them when he heard a phrase in the room 'we will come back' by the attaché who had been with them there - he yelled and pushed ahead with his paper and they were rushed up the ladder onto a departing chinook, the rising gangway trapping my mother-in-laws foot which she almost lost - it was lifting as they jumped on. While they were in the air, the ambassador left; ending the evacuation and the hopes of those left on the ground.
I have to admit that I don't personally know the Afghan FTC team. They are working in our division, but in a different, newer global competition that allows for a less expensive set of parts/competition set to encourage countries that can't afford to have the bulky $550 competition set sent over seas (it is usually 100 or more pounds of stuff in about 4 huge boxes). That limited international teams to only about 20% of the total and so this new modified competition was started. They participated in the first incarnations of it and so we have never crossed paths. I also can't get information about their location or where they might be finally settled (even they don't know that). Understandably, the FIRST organization has to be super, super careful about letting out information on their teams and the children as there are unfortunately predatory people out there. So even if you contacted them and said that you knew me and that I am the coach of The Brainstormers 8644 in Lexington, they would never in one million years give you my email address. This is an issue we deal with all the time in the logistics of competition. So I know absolutely that none of us would be given contact info for the Afghan girls or their coach, who I understand was also trying to emigrate.
I also don't know any more than you do from the newspaper articles, sadly, even though I have been in contact with people at FIRST headquarters during the last few weeks on other topics. Of course the girls have come up and as of yet there isn't more knowledge to be had or coordinated support yet as they don't know anything either. I am sure when they do know and can coordinate something - I will find out.
Their particular situation may be very perilous. Some are minors and there are no reports on if their families were allowed out. Others are just barely adults but again, in a society like Afghanistan, they will have a challenge in resettling without the support of family if they left alone. Because they did not work for the Allies, their rights to resettle and gain visas to get to the US is in doubt. I know that one group landed in the middle east and another in Mexico. So what country will decide to allow them to resettle as refugees is unknown. You can help by calling your congressmen/women and advocating for their resettlement in the USA, as we were the ones that put them in such danger that they needed to leave. If you aren't aware, they were the poster-children for women's progress in US occupied Afghanistan. Literally. They were painted on the walls of the US embassy in Kabul. The wall of course has been defaced already and you can imagine how cells of ISIS or Taliban would be happy to hurt them as a symbol, so I don't think where they end up will be plastered on the pages of the newspapers for a long time. I certainly hope for their safety it isn't; especially as they may or may not have support family with them.
|The wall of the American Embassy. This painting effectively was a death warrent|
I very much encourage everyone reading this and interested in their plight to take that feeling and direct it towards helping every Afghan family that arrives here. There will need to be sponsors who will commit to providing a job and housing. Often this is an organization like a resettlement organization, a church, a hospital, manufacturing facility, etc. The resettlement organizations will help pair up families with sponsors depending on the skills and language skills of the families. Perhaps you can suggest to your church or you are involved in a company who might have jobs and you might investigate how to become a sponsor to see if it is a good match. Once a family comes, they need so much. They need things to set up housekeeping, getting their kids registered for school, finding and setting up services, navigating getting licenses, language classes, food shopping, banking, and on and on. It is likely that the fathers will have English language skills but that the mothers and maybe children won't. Being a refugee as a woman is unbelievably isolating and they are responsible for so much that they are unfamiliar with. Anything you can do to help her be less isolated is such a help.
They have left with nothing. NOTHING. My family has a grand total of five objects they left with. Only a few pairs of clothes that they wore on top of each other as they had to abandon suitcases while moving between places trying to get onto helicopters. Humans vs cargo. If you want to understand the experience of a refugee, my husband was interviewed for the Library of Congress's Story Core oral history project about his first days in the United States. You can listen to our son interview him. It is an eye opening discussion from the perspective of a child trying to become American in a new land with many things that were unfamiliar. Things you wouldn't have considered! After spending months in Wake Island being processed, my family ended up in a camp in Pennsylvania and then getting sponsors to move them to La Crosse, Wisconsin. I am not sure if the story of his first Christmas gift is in the interview, but the sponsors gave them two big boxes for the kids. They were super excited - imaging TOYS. Instead they were comforters for the cold winter. Talk about a disappointed boy who was imaging some sort of truck toy. As a note, he still has that comforter and still was sleeping under it during graduate school when I pointed out that it was falling apart and took it and make a male-styled quilt to cover it. It is, as of this morning, on the end of our bed - being the preferred weight for summer sleeping. A twin cover. After 28 years of marriage, I am ready to cover it again with a very fancy quilt. Each layer of this piece of textile is a document of his immigrant experience in the US.
So think about both the need and the dreams of the Afghan refugees. :-) Also realize that the people who are willing to leave everything they have and family to get to another country are almost always the educated class of their country. It is extremely humiliating to resettle. They would have been the most respected university professors, engineers, doctors, lawyers, language specialists, officers, etc. The Taliban suddenly realized this fact a few days ago and are trying to prevent people from reaching the airport as they will be left with no trained professionals to run the country's infrastructure with (their own damn fault!). My father-in-law was a graduate trained mathematician and his final profession in the US was machinist, which took him years to get to. He was proudest when an engineer would come down to the loud, dirty area he worked in to ask for his help with a math problem, but he came home with his hands dirty every day. My mother-in-law was a surgical nurse. The highest job she was ever allowed to do in the US was washing and sanitizing hospital equipment. They had worked their way up to the elite in Vietnam, both came from very poor backgrounds, so this was highly unusual. These are the types of people who realize their children will have no future and are willing to take the risk - to walk away from their lives and start over again. RESPECT the Afghan refugees. Think about if tomorrow things were to go south in the US, would you walk away? (I have to admit that certain aspects of the last four years had my husband and I putting effort into that thought experiment). They have evaluated not only their risk of being killed but the risk their children won't have a future and chosen the future for them, understanding that means supreme sacrifice on their part. How can we best use the skills that these refugees have? They will encounter a myriad of restrictive trade laws and certifications that they will not be able to get papers to satisfy. Their children will become entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, etc. How can you support them in getting to those goals? Hopefully there will be a few more Afghani robot teams, but maybe located in Iowa or Michigan!
So please turn your sympathy for the Afghani girls robotics team into action for all their country men and women who are suddenly adrift like they are. I will let you know if I hear anything specific we can do for them, but there will be around 100,000 of them here just as needful. Remember that for 20 years they extended a hand of friendship and aid to our sons and daughters in their land. It is time for us to do the same to them. I know all too well how extending a hand to others to bring children into my family has been in many ways the highlight of my life. Their friendship and hard work will be so enriching to you and our country.
Listing of the State Refugee Agencies where you can find contacts that you can use to help out
It is with an extremely heavy heart that I let the needlework community know that our friend and great champion of textiles, Linda Eaton, passed away last night. She was private about her battle with cancer but for the limited number who knew, she was as witty and hilarious as she always was - irreverent until the end in a way that had always endeared herself to others. Linda was a consummate professional and intellectual but she never let that get in the way of her humanity and wickedly funny sense of humor.
Linda was a mentor of mine and friend and I will miss conversations and debates with her immensely. My last zoom call with her had us laughing from the gut about the need to jail break her out of the rehabilitation home she was at after a fall so we could go off and look at needlework together. She was keenly interested in everything and helped me frame experiments to the end, firing off challenging questions to thoughts on historical needlework in between our laughter about her jokes regarding life's misfortune.
She was a rare individual who made the transition from textile conservator to curator, one reason why we bonded over our love of deep scientific examination of objects. She was the biggest champion of the need to engage the community of people who practice the craft and business of textiles in the study of historical works. Not only learning from those who do but supporting many research projects and books on those who lead by teaching or designing. Business wasn't a dirty word to Linda and I think her work celebrating the contributions of Erica Wilson in her last exhibition and co-authorship speak to this. She understood that the history of textiles is also a history of female entrepreneurship.
Linda was one of those 'make things happen' people in ways that most embroiderers will never fully understand her impact. She knew how to work the system and I say that in the most respectful way possible. If you had a wild idea to bring people together, exhibits to life or research that should be done; the first person you would reach out to was Linda. She was the best at recognizing the potential of ideas and helping you to get them moving and done. As I sit here and contemplate the stories that should be told I am awed at the impacts and projects that she made happen and find it hard to choose the stories to tell - from those personally impactful to those that will change the way history is written. From the establishment of the Sampler Archive project with Lynne Anderson, to the bi-annual symposiums that gave voice to those doing significant research in the field of embroidery, and her gracious acknowledgment of modern embroiderers by exhibiting our works alongside those of historic embroiderers; she has left a legacy that can't be understated. And that is just in the field of embroidery - yet she is equally known in printed textiles, quilts, costume, flags, and other areas of textiles.
|Linda showing a visitor at Hancock Shaker |
Village the motif she just struggled over
|Linda with the Plimoth Jacket - at the handover|
she showed up with an unmarked van at the
end of a secret train trip as if it was a big heist.
She always found a way to show humor in
every situation - making life fun
Linda was concerned that her beloved Symposium and Textile Department would be left in good hands and passed the torch to Laura Johnson, who will be an amazing caretaker of the legacy that Linda has entrusted her with. Those of us who knew that Linda was retiring due to her illness wanted to honor her at the last symposium but understood her desire for privacy. I wanted so badly to establish a fund at Winterthur in her honor for purchase of an object, but we had to refrain at the time. I hope now, that those of you who greatly appreciated all that Linda did for needlework, will donate in her memory to Winterthur for the purchase of a textile object.
I have added the memorial that Winterthur released today so you can read more about her and her amazing background below. I know I am not the only one who feels deeply that she mentored and enabled my career, you almost can't talk to anyone in the curatorial and conservation community below a certain age and not meet someone who Linda mentored through the Winterthur program or her years working in the UK. Personally, I have to thank Linda for believing in what I was doing and for not only helping with the projects I had conceived but elevating my profile by asking me to speak so often, bestowing on me credentials in the historical textiles field. I couldn't thank her enough. Even the stitching trial I will be starting soon with all my volunteer stitchers - Linda and I talked about this in depth just weeks ago. Her superior and curious intellect contributing even as her body was letting her down.
God bless you Linda, thank you from a grateful community who will be touched by all you did for hundreds of years.
The Winterthur community mourns the loss of our friend Linda Eaton, the retired John T. and Marjorie McGraw Director of Collections. Linda passed the night of August 18, 2021, after a courageous battle against a long-term illness. Linda’s contributions to Winterthur and the field of textile arts and history were numerous and invaluable. Her impact and influence are immeasurable.
Linda is recognized around the world for her leadership in the field of interdisciplinary textile scholarship. Over more than 30 years at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Linda oversaw the acquisition, interpretation, care, and exhibition of the museum’s textile collections, which includes nearly 20,000 furnishings, articles of clothing, rugs, quilts, and needlework. A specialist in textile conservation as well as textile history, she advanced technical and scientific knowledge of textiles broadly.
“Linda was one of those rare individuals who could speak with authority on detailed and technical matters one moment and in the next could sweep you away with her profound appreciation for the artistry and craft of an item,” said Chris Strand, the interim CEO of Winterthur. “She shared this gift through her teaching, her mentoring of staff and students, and the creation of our most popular and engaging exhibitions. All of us will miss her passion and her friendship.”
Eaton has shared her knowledge and expertise through teaching hundreds of graduate students in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture and the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. She inspired future curators by widely sharing her enthusiasm with everyone from kindergarteners and her graduate students to serious quilters, stitchers, designers, embroiderers, and general audiences. Hundreds of loyal followers attended her regular needlework conferences at Winterthur.
Linda curated popular and scholarly exhibitions about embroidery such as Quilts in a Material World; Needles and Haystacks: Pastoral Imagery in American Needlework; With Cunning Needle: Four Centuries of Embroidery; The Diligent Needle: Instrument of Profit, Pleasure, and Ornament; and Embroidery: The Language of Art, as well as Betsy Ross: The Life Behind the Legend, co-curated with Dr. Marla Miller. Linda curated the popular Treasures on Trial: The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes, and she was an instrumental partner in one of Winterthur’s most memorable exhibitions, Costuming THE CROWN in 2019, the only exhibition of costumes from the popular Netflix series.
Her publications include Quilts in a Material World: Selections from the Winterthur Collection (2007), and Printed Textiles: British and American Cottons and Linens, 1700–1850 (2014), a revision of Florence Montgomery’s seminal 1970 book. Linda’s latest publication, Erica Wilson: A Life in Stitches, co-authored with Anne Hilker, was released in December 2020.
“Linda must hold the record for number of scholarly publications and exhibitions emanating from Winterthur,” said Tom Savage, the former director of external affairs at Winterthur and a longtime friend. “Her Quilts in a Material World book and exhibition placed Winterthur’s extraordinary collection in a global context. There was nothing parochial about her approach. She knew the wide world of textiles internationally and brought that vast knowledge to the study of the most minute topic. Her update of Florence Montgomery’s Printed Textiles gave this landmark work new life as the publication of record on the topic. Two generations of scholars benefitted from her tutelage at Winterthur as conservator, then curator of textiles and McGraw director of collections, and her star pupils now head noted collections of textiles.”
Linda’s students and mentees care for renowned collections at such institutions as the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand, as well as Winterthur. Linda was also a founding board member of the North American Textile Conservation Conference and a member of the board of Textile Society of America.
“Linda arrived in 1990 as the Head of Textile Conservation and was initially my supervisor,” said Joy Gardiner, head of Conservation for Winterthur. “She quickly proved an excellent mentor to me and so many others, and she became a long-term good friend for my family—a wonderful presence and influence in our daughter’s life. Linda was a textilian to her core and a staunch—one might even say fierce—advocate for the objects made from fibers and the people who created them. In her generous sharing of this advocacy in teaching, publications, workshops and exhibitions, she fostered an expanded appreciation of the medium at Winterthur and well beyond. Her influence will be long lasting.”
Outside the museum and the classroom, Linda served as the volunteer president of the Arden Craft Museum Board, which preserves the unique history of three communities known collectively as The Ardens. Linda’s leadership helped to transform the museum into a center of the villages that offers year-round programs and attracts researchers from around the country.
Eaton trained at the Textile Conservation Centre and the Courtauld Institute of Art before working for the National Museums of Scotland. Linda arrived at Winterthur in 1991 as a textile conservator. She became curator of textiles in 2000 and was promoted to director of museum collections and senior curator of textiles in 2009. Eaton was named the John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections and Senior Curator of Textiles in 2012. She retired in December 2020. A curator of textiles position was recently created in her name.
Stitchers are a generous bunch and I know everyone wants to be part of something larger! Thank you to the 100+ people who have volunteered through the Frosting Club boxes to get a kit and send me back data. For everyone else who keeps emailing or posting - I will be looking for more opportunities for you.
This first batch is to see how well the concept works as we are pursuing research funding. Right now I am doing this on my own dime and so piggy-backing on the Frostings Box shipping made tons of sense. Then between the donated silks and that - I only have to pay for linen from my own pocket. The Frostings Box is at a weight that another 2 oz won't change the shipping cost so it was perfect. Otherwise it would be in the one to two thousand dollars to send out research kits.
Once we get a grant (crossing fingers) there will be money in it for shipping/materials for such things. So keep tuned as we do have several ideas where having stitched samples is extremely helpful for data collection to prove ideas about labor or how to deduce if there are multiple stitchers on an object.
I was able to keep control of the Plimoth Jacket stitching samples and have done work with them in the past, I will be going back to them again soon to do more research and then I have another idea of a stitching sample to engage with the public - THANK YOU!
I am looking for 60-100 people to volunteer to do some experimental stitching for me, about 1-hour worth. Because sending standard kits to that many people would be expensive, I am going to recruit from the group of people who participate in the Frostings 6 Club this month - The kit will be included in the shipped product to those interested. As there are usually 250 people - I hope enough will take me up on this. So much more on this - the why and how below.
I have told people over and over that my work in embroidery is one great big research project. A bunch of experimental archeology with some anthropology thrown in with you, the stitcher, a big contributor to the work. As the Cabinet of Curiosities is winding down, the data and knowledge I have been taking in is really leading to some interesting conclusions and new methodologies that I am applying to embroidery of the 17th century.
During the last six months, I have used zoom to collaborate more fully with some colleagues I have always wanted to work with across the globe and this is proving to be a very fruitful set of work. While we are embarking on proposals, papers, and in-depth examination of objects both now and in the next several months; one of the big things we need to do is establish metrics that can be used to evaluate embroideries.
You and I have a good feel of how long it takes to embroider something and maybe how much thread. But the decorative arts and academic community focused on history has no idea. One of the most common questions I get from a curator is 'how long did this take?'. That is a loaded question as it assumes a particular way of working with one person doing the work. As you start to look at larger and more complex works, often a small army of people worked the pieces. So there are many questions of how long, how many people, how much materials, and therefore how much did this cost? My collaborators and I are aiming to produce methods and metrics that will allow some of these questions to be answered and thus illuminate much about how large embroideries were produced.
So starting with labor, you could measure the time it takes to do hundreds of stitches or to be more efficient, you might break stitches into component moves and measure the time it takes to do a component move. All stitches are made up of only four moves, which I call needle operations.
They are the stab up and down of the needle, passing the needle under thread on the surface, or wrapping the thread under/around a needle. My collaborators and I have spent time looking at 17th century embroideries to look at how they stitched and have come up with two samples that can be stitched and timed to understand how many seconds each of these needle moves takes. One sample, a centimeter square tent stitch sample averages over 512 needle moves of the stab up and down type. The second sample, a 1-inch square worked in detached buttonhole has the time data dominated by the two other moves.
|Experimental sample of detached buttonhole|
What we want to do is ask groups of people of different experience levels (Apprentice, Experienced, and Professional) to work the samples and time themselves with a set of materials we send out and under a particular set of stitch diagrams and fabric set-up. This way the times for each needle move type is averaged over a large number of individuals and not the work of just one person (me). Giving us a range of labor per move that we can then use to predict the labor for stitches of different types and scales.
|Experimental samples of diagonal stitches for timing trials. Tent Stitch is the sample for this experiment. Chosen afterexamining many 17th century pieces from the back to see that this is the stitch used in this period|
I have now done this experiment myself and the data is exciting. I won't reveal the numbers right now as I don't want anyone to think there is a goal to try to reach. What we do want is for the stitching to be done in a frame such that you can use one hand above the linen and one hand below the linen. This can be done in a slate frame or a roller bar frame or q-snap that somehow is balanced or secured so you can use both hands at once to stitch. This is how the 17th century worker was working so that the needle was passed to the hand under when it went through the fabric. It also makes working the detached buttonhole under the same conditions for each person. Most of the objects we are studying were worked in a frame and not in the hand or on a needlelace pillow. If the results of this first experiment are great, we may expand the concept to collect data for different working conditions with new experiments to see how speed changes.
Complete instructions will be with each experiment kit and how to return the timed data. Only two square patches are to be stitched - about 1 hour of stitching. One in tent stitch over one thread and one in detached buttonhole with return (over two thread scale). The linen is the 40ct. Restoration linen, cut 12"x12" which should allow for most frames to be used. The experimental kit will contain pre-cut soie paris and soie perlee for the two experiments along with instructions/form to fill out for times and a survey about your experience level with the two types of stitches to help us place you into one of the three categories for data analysis.
This research is not yet funded (we are writing proposals as I write) but as I shoe-string and piggy back on other things like the Frostings Box, I need to acknowledge special people in the embroidery community who have made the idea of doing large scale experiments possible.
Sallie Pate passed away this year and had been a long time embroiderer who participated in my courses and loved historic embroidery. Her husband asked me if I had use for the threads that Sallie had in her stash and we both felt that using them to enable experiments that would seriously contribute to the historical understanding of the embroideries she loved would be a fitting tribute to her because of her life and work. The lives of our band of wonderful stitchers are always varied and complex and I so enjoy knowing you all. I loved Jeff's obituary of his beloved wife and so want to share it here as a tribute to what we will all start together in her memory:
On 28 December, 2020, in Nassau Bay, Texas, the life of the most wonderful, caring, funny, intelligent, creative and beautiful person ever to walk the earth came to an end after 72 years of improving the world. If you had the privilege of knowing, your world was enhanced and it may never recover from her loss.
After college she worked as an actress at Casa Mañana Playhouse in Ft Worth, Texas. A year later, she moved to Vermillion, South Dakota, where she taught acting, creative dramatics, children's theatre, and costume design and construction at the University of South Dakota. She also directed numerous productions along with designing and building costumes. In 1979, Sallie moved to the University of Houston Clear Lake City where she continued to teach, direct and costume. When she retired, she took up designing and constructing quilts, starting her own company, Sallie Pate Designs. She was very much in demand as a teacher of quilting and other fabric arts. When quilting became too easy, she switched to embroidery, earning a Master Craftsman award, as well as continuing to utilize her formidable skills as a teacher and designer.
Sallie was incredibly generous with her knowledge of stitching. For years she planned and taught more than half of the programs for her small embroidery group. She usually supplied the materials as well as designs and instructions. She encouraged all of them to design and to study the history of embroidery. Sallie's library was an inspiration to all of them and she was always happy to lend books. She collected old needlework books as well as the newest research books on stitches. The more detailed the stitch diagrams, the better.
In 1972, she gave Jeff Pate the honor of becoming her husband. They lived happily ever after for 48 years.
In 2019, she broke all the rules and survived pancreatic cancer, ultimately though, her amazing spirit could not overcome her deteriorating body.