Saturday, July 17, 2021

Silk Purl Flower Baskets Course - Sept 2021

Finally I have collected enough materials to be able to run the Silk Purl Flower Baskets Course starting in September.  I will be opening up registration for it in August.  

The course is 3-months long and results in two embroideries that can be framed or used as the inside doors of an embroidered cabinet.  The course uses silk wrapped purls which are like little silk covered springs in a large number of techniques to fill the designs that are outlined in gold threads to give a bit of sparkle.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

What Have I Been Up To?

I have gotten a few emails over the last year, lovely people concerned that the blog is fallow and thus maybe things might not be ok.  Well, things are ok.  So don't worry!  

But as for many in business, the last 18-months have been overwhelming.  Anything hobby based just exploded with people wanting/needing materials, new things to do, etc.  And it coincided with, as you may have heard, enormous and unprecedented supply chain and shipping issues.  Things like six months to get pallets of silk picked up in Europe and transported to the US.  All kinds of things happened like silk would arrive but spools would have run out.  The blog ended up the last on the list.  As it turned out, there were several problems with my store/teaching infrastructure when the service providers decided to make major upgrade or changes in the early days of a pandemic which resulted in me having to rebuild on new platforms and switch people over.  Kinda a perfect storm as one would say.

In one of the emails, my 'staff' was mentioned and I had to have a huge laugh.  I am all the staff.  I am the IT department, the shipping department, the stitcher of the designs, the instruction writer, the researcher, the lecturer, the box packer, everything... So it can be a lot to get done.  And of course, as for all women, the last 18-months required us to put our normal roles of home organizer/provisioner on overdrive.  I now have a good feeling of what it must have been like on the prairie keeping track of every morsel of food and needing to make sure it didn't run out before the next harvest.  I had two 6-foot tall boys in my home who were exercising to pass the time, so I was even doing things like driving to farms to buy three dozen eggs a week which were being rationed in my area.  (yes, one boy eats six eggs a sitting).  So food was highly stressful for me and then we were cooking all meals which again, having BOYS, resulted in no leftovers unless I was to buy a military level sized pot!

Another enormous time sink has been the robotics team.  For both the college aged group and the high school group of kids, this was a disruption to their lives and how they had planned them out.  Kids who are 'doing everything right' were given a kick in the gut and they have had to adapt.  ACT/SAT tests constantly canceled, couldn't go to colleges to visit, school on zoom, the World Championship was canceled in both 2020 and 2021.  Our kids on the teams lean towards those with some sort of extra challenge.  Attention deficit, dyslexia, anxiety, etc are all part of their lives and the rapid change in the parameters of school was a new minefield to navigate while trying to excel and get to college.  So I feel like I have played mental health coordinator for almost a dozen kids for the last 18-months.  I know I talked about having work sessions on my deck last summer to give the locked-down kids an outlet so they didn't jump off a roof.  

Now that things are opening up, we have some pent up things to get taken care of.  Learning to drive is behind schedule, standardized testing, and seeing colleges.  Some of us with kids who have the same interests and thus likely the same college list are trying to be efficient and take each other's kids to get through this massive undertaking of covid-era university visits.  On Friday there was a big game of 'who is open and lets you on campus?'.  Texts back and forth with parents and trying to coordinate getting spots on tours and who is flying with the group to get these kids through the process, some of which are actually writing their applications as I speak and haven't yet stepped on a college campus.  As many colleges are only allowing you to walk around yourself, everyone is finding someone they know to help tour the kids around so at least there is something meaningful taken in.  It is a minefield as two years of kids asked for college deferrals, so there are less spots to compete for, as there is no housing.  It has resulted in kids being rejected from college at a much higher rate and thus now you have to throw a wider net because it will be years before each college is admitting the numbers they were before because of housing limits.  Our state does not have a large state college where they have to admit everyone, so the report from our high school is kids with all-A's were getting rejected from the engineering college at UMass this year.  The kids are understandably scared as what they knew and could work towards has been tossed out - its a lottery now.  

This is overlaid on the robotics which made a big change to allow it to go forward for 2020-2021.  They expanded the season so instead of Sept - April it is going Sept - August and will turn around again and start immediately.  So we aren't done yet!  If the kids were performing differently we would have cut it off.  They ended up #2 in the world in 2020 and couldn't try to win it all as worlds were canceled.  This year they aimed to win it all - ended up #1 in rankings and at the last minute the Worlds were canceled and they decided to go back on their pledge to hold it remote, which killed the kids.  An after-season event that is held yearly decided to do it in person and to only invite the top world teams so that it would be a default Worlds.  So we are working on that right now.  It makes it so there is a lot on their plate, but at the same time they can finally work inside and together without masks for the first time in 18-months and they are re-learning social skills which I had seen stay stagnant or go backwards and so it is a bit of a blessing instead of another summer of being alone.  I was thinking the other day that I can't wait for the robot stuff to be put away (for 4 weeks until it starts again) and then it dawned on me, the stuff and work has been continuous since Sept 2019.  The last time we took it down my son was a 8th grader and now we are running around looking at colleges.  Yikes - no wonder we all feel tired.  Usually we would have a four month break every year.

So things are ok but as most families are finding, we are all exhausted from the last 18-months and challenges to be overcome or adapted to have been thrown in our way (like the shortened intense college admissions cycle for the next 14-months).  Looking forward I am apprehensive.  We have a dyslexic kid who was just learning how to study for tests, use his accomidations, and learn to write.  Then school was canceled and they spent a year doing 'projects' vs tests or papers.  Just in the year where that skill set is learned, he didn't learn it.  So we expect that this junior year will be fraught with having to learn all that very quick.  So quick edit cycles, maybe tutoring needed, etc.  Things that were on auto-pilot for the other child by this age. 

So if the blog is not up - it is likely that I am handling the needlework classes and the shop and being mom to my kid and the many other robot kids.   Sometimes something has to give.  

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Casket at Arundel Casket - Conservation

I stumbled onto a wonderful article with pictures about the conservation and display of the Arundel Casket at Arundel Castle.  I really liked the way that they newly displayed the casket so details such as the inside could be seen in the plexiglass case.  

Because it was a conservation, there are many pictures of the inside and parts of the casket as well as the embroidery.  This one is a common shape, not one that I have reproduced but one that is seen quite a bit with the drop down front.  

One of the things that people have a hard time realizing is that these caskets are multilayered with papers and fabrics.  So finishing them is quite the challenge, requiring conservation acid-free papers that are almost like fabric themselves so they can pull across corners without ripping. The added benefit of the paper is that is keeps the wood sap and chemicals from leeching onto the embroidery.  The way they are covered is that the wood is first covered fully with paper and then the silk linings and the embroidery are backed with the paper and then the paper to paper bond is made.  

You can kinda see that in this article with so many of the pieces taken out, the amount of paper/silk lining is a bit more obvious.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Queen Elizabeth I Burse

 One of the first Chancelor's embroidered burses is going on display at the Victoria and Albert museum for their new exhibit on purses and bags.  The piece has some amazing close up photos on a special article about it on their website as part of the exhibition.

The article mentions how the bags that held the seal were using leather or no adornment previous to Elizabeth, but after her accession, they became these heavily embroidered pieces.  This is very interesting as it matches an overall increase in the use of embroidery across society and one wonders if Elizabeth's own interest in embroidery influenced the zeal for it for a century.  

Drawstring deep red velvet bag richly embroidered in gold and featuring a lion, dragon and the initials E.R.

Burse, 1558 – 1603, England. Museum no. T.40-1986. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London