For those who couldn't make it to the Winterthur conference in person, there is a virtual option and that is still open for registration until Oct 14th. The talks in the main sessions were recorded and will be available to watch for a month for those who register for the virtual version of the conference. At $200, it is a nice way to support the museum and see talks from your own home.
My talk on the life of Martha Edlin is one of the lectures. Afterwards I got quite a few comments that no one expected the level of information or detail that I had uncovered. Lynne Anderson did an amazing talk about Mexican samplers - bringing them to life with both primary sources, descriptions of the stitches in Spanish, and even books describing how to teach them! The images were quite yummy. Kelli Barnes gave a talk about her work on samplers worked by black girls/women in the European tradition either in Africa, the colonies, or the USA and drew upon embroidery tradition in Africa to give context.
Kate Sekules talk about mending knocked it out of the park. She was so engaging - starting out with the earlier than understood prehistoric use of needles to modern day co-opting of mending as an environmental movement among the younger generation by fashion houses. It was extremely illuminating to everyone in the audience, not only about the technology of mending during war years but how we are manipulated today by mass marketing. Everyone loved it. We asked for her to come back and do a take on darning samplers someday.
Other traditional embroidery topics were to be had - from 17th century Boston Coats of Arms and a wonderful, wonderful talk from historian and author Marla Miller about a turn of the century embroiderer who worked a reproduction design on cloth that was spun and woven by ancestors in the 1700s. I don't want to spill the story.
A unique aspect of the talks this year were the inclusion of newly graduated students from the Winterthur program giving short talks about either investigation or conservation of a piece. The conservations were fascinating - seeing how tattered pieces could be stabilized and brought back to life so they could be displayed. Each required very cutting edge technology. Then there was one Massachusetts embroidery which was being scientifically examined to try to understand the slips attached to it. Laura included this one as it had a twist that had the entire audience sit up and say "hello!!" in great surprise in the middle at the conclusion of some of the analytical data. Previously it was 'yeah yeah... silk, metal... and then - WHAT??" There was a real story in there and not at all what we all sitting there expected which made it fun.