Tuesday 30 April 2013

Darning The Land: Sewn * Philippa Lawrence * Waddesdon Manor * From May 2013

Darning the Land: Sewn is inspired by close study of unseen aspects of the textile collections in store. Philippa Lawrence’s research unearthed light-damaged pincushions, darns, mends and labels on domestic linen, and explored the intricate workings of the backs of tapestries and embroideries. In homage to the management and history of the Estate, and the contribution of female collectors at Waddesdon, Philippa’s planting on Tree Hill connects the inside and outside of the house, and reminds us of those who worked here and cared for it. To Philippa, the surface of the land is like a fabric, the swathes of flowers a running thread.

Extending the theme of taking the inside of the house outside, from June, the summer carpet bedding on the Parterre will also reflect a feminine collection, Baroness Edmond de Rothschild’s 17th and 18th-century lace. Collars, lappets, stoles and ruffles made in Venice, Brussels and the French lace-making centres of Alençon and Argentan were historically stored on blue paper in a velvet-covered, satin-lined chest. The planting will follow the patterns made by the threads. Philippa will give a lecture and tour of her planting schemes in July. For more details click here.

Monday 29 April 2013

Winner of The Sarah Nelson Tea Towel & Sowing the Seeds of Sewing

I wish I could send some gingerbread to go with this prize tea towel but I have a sneaky feeling customs would keep it all for themselves! The prize tea towel is going to Yasmina in Barcelona. Thank you to everyone who entered. Don't fret - there are more nice giveaways lined up. In the meantime you might enjoy reading this article about a midnight stitcher in Sowing the Seeds of Sewing by Susie Boyt of the Financial Times: just click here.

Sunday 28 April 2013

See Mary Queen Of Scots Oxburgh Panels On-Line @ V&A

The embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots and also of her guard during captivity, Bess of Hardwick, are ever a source of great interest. They are on loan at present to Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, which is perhaps off the beaten tourist track for some vistors with limited time or budget.

However, there is some good news for you - they are available for viewing on-line now, courtesy of the wonderful V&A Museum searchable collection.

To enjoy them for yourself - simply click here.

Saturday 27 April 2013

The Stoke Edith Tapestries

Once thought to have been worked by five successive wives of one of the Foley gentlemen in the 18th century, these stunning tapestries are from a set of three - only two of which have published images. Belonging to the Foley family, they were first loaned to the National Trust by Mrs Paul Foley, and then accepted by the government in lieu of death duties for keeping at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This first tapestry is called The Orangery Garden.

The orangery was but a miniature of the house itself, which you can see above.
The panel above is called The Alcove Garden and is remarkable for the shadows cast by the living cast depicted there. The panels are executed in tent stitch using a mixture of fine wool and silk on a single mesh canvas. The third panel, not shown, depict6s a meeting between Aeneas and Achates with Venus disguised as a huntress and is copied from a 17th century edition of the Aeneid. The panels are all large - they measure 11 feet in height which means high ceilings. If your ceiling isn't quite that high, then maybe a replica tea towel is for you. These tea-towels are currently on sale from Museum Selection - 2 for £3.99. Click here for more details.

Friday 26 April 2013

The Verheggen Penders Sampler Collection

It is such a long time now since I mentioned the fabulous Verheggen-Penders sampler collection, which is in Dieteren, in the Netherlands, that I thought some of the newer readers might not be aware of it - and particularly its existence on an easy-to-view CD set which can be purchased and enjoyed at leisure in the luxury of your own home - no expensive air fares involved! The CDs work anywhere in the world.

You will see many early examples of Dutch samplers including one that is thought to be the earliest known cloth from 1571! The collection has fabulous black samplers from Vierlande in Germany which you can see at the top of this post and also from Groningen in the Netherlands. This darling set of 4 English samplers is included with charts for you to stitch your own.
The 2 CD-Rom set has over 250 sampler images that you can enlarge and explore. You can obtain it direct from direct from Mariette Verheggen Penders - just click here to find out more.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Resignation By Sampler - Anyone?

I read with much amusement the other day that Chris Holmes, who works at the UK’s Border Service at London’s Stansted Airport, had resigned by communicating his message in the form of cake. He is leaving to start a cake business. You can read more of the story by clicking here. So it occurred to me if anyone - you or someone you know - had ever resigned, proposed, objected, complained, applied for a job or whatever by sampler? Just asking....

Happiness is Visiting Museums Says LSE Economist Daniel Fujiwara

According to recent research carried out by Daniel Fujiwara, visiting museums has a positive impact on happiness and health. Participation in the arts and being audience to the arts also have positive effects on happiness - the wellbeing impact of participation in the arts is of the same magnitude as the effect of participation in sports. Putting an economic value to the derived benefits, Daniel produces the following estimates: for visiting museums - about £3,200 per year; for participating in the arts - about £1,500 per year; and for being audience to the arts - about £2,000 per year. To read the full content of the report just click here to download a pdf version of the article.Stay Happy - Visit Museums!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

17th Century Book With Embroidered Book Cover For Auction * Adams, Dublin * 30 April 2013

Lot 478 for auction on 30 April at Adams in Dublin is a 1640 Church of England printed book: The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Newly translated out of the Originall Greek - printed by Robert Barker and the Assigns of John Bill, London. 24mo in 12s. It is a miniature edition of the revised version of King James.
It is described as: The binding is most interesting and G Barber writing in 1971 in "Textile and Embroidered Bindings" related how in 1638 the milliners and shopkeepers of the Royal Exchange in London presented a petition to archbishop Laud in which they made reference to the custom of providing "rare and curious covers of imbrothery and needlework .... wherein Bibles, Testaments and Psalm Bookes of the best sort and neatest print have been richly bound up for ye Nobility and gentry of this kingdome, for whome and not for common persons they are indeed most fitt." A very good copy in quarter vellum solander box. BOUND WITH CHURCH OF ENGLAND PRINTED BOOK: The Whole Booke of Psalmes: Collected into English Meeter by Tho. Sternhold, Jo. Hopkins, W. Whittingham aand others .... withg apt notes to sing them withall - printed by I.L. for the Company of Stationers, London. 24mo in 12s. Binding: A generally well preserved contemporary embroidered binding of white satin worked in high relief with silver wire and coloured threads and applied sequins with a design of tulips, roses and marigolds, unfolding beneath a cloudburst, gauffered gilt edges, preserved in a vellum backed buckram case. The estimate is: €800 - €1,200. Click here for more details.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Mario Testino - Alta Moda - Embroidery Back In Fashion

April 2013 saw the opening of Mario Testino's exhibition Alta Moda, at his cultural institute in his home of Lima, Peru. Testino's Alta Moda (2007–2012) is a series of never before seen photographic portraits of Peruvians in traditional and festive dress from Cusco, one of the highest regions of Peru.
The exhibition represents a bold departure for Testino from his work for fashion magazines. After this opening at MATE, Alta Moda will be exhibited in New York in the fall of 2013. The images remind us of the magic of traditional needlework skills in transforming raw textiles into a vibrant celebration of life, colour and beauty.

So now it is time for you to get stitching with your needles - what can you create todaythat will change the world and how we see it?

Monday 22 April 2013

Free Giveaway Draw * Sarah Nelson Tea Towel

Whenever I go to the Lake District - I always come back with a huge bag of Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread for family and friends. Who was Sarah Nelson? She was born Sarah Kemp in 1815, the year of Waterloo. She knew poverty and worked to support her widowed mother as a servant with the local gentry. The worked hard and progressed to being cook. In 1844 she married Wilfred Nelson of Morland near Penrith. Wilfred worked as a farm labourer and part-time grave digger, but he was unable to earn enough to support his wife and two children. So Sarah took in washing and made cakes and pastries for Lady Farquhar, in her home at Dale Lodge in Grasmere.

Around 1850 a small cottage known as "Gate Cottage" then became available for rent. Gate Cottage had been built in 1630 by public subscription as the village school. Education was not compulsory at this time, and it was only the village folk who could afford the penny a day to send their boys to school. Once education became compulsory a new school was built nearby to accommodate all the village children, leaving the Nelson's to take over the tenancy of the property.

At her new home, Sarah was encouraged by Lady Farquhar's French chef to make Gingerbread. As the Victorian tourists passed by, they would see Sarah donned in her white apron and shawl sitting out in her cobbled yard selling her Gingerbread. Sarah's Grasmere Gingerbread became renowned, and soon she was wrapping it in pure vegetable parchment printed "None Genuine Without Trade Mark". The recipe was locked away in the local bank vault. Sarah abandoned her parlour, and hung a curtain across her kitchen to form a passageway from the door through to the diminutive shop. Sarah had now established herself as "Baker and Confectioner of Church Cottage, Grasmere".

In 1869 and 1870 tragedy struck when both Sarah's young daughters died of tuberculosis. And a few years later Wilfred died. She turned to her work, even making gingerbread alphabets, then covering them with thin horn to protect them, and using them to teach the village children. She died in 1904 at the age of 88 worn out by her hard work, but fortunately her secret did not die with her.

You can still purchase her secret recipe gingerbread in the shop where it all started - and lots of other home-made goodies too. The gingerbread has a lovely citrus tang and a very firm bite. This vintage tea towel came with an expensive hamper quite a few years ago, but it has never been used. And I thought if you will never visit the lovely Lake District and enjoy this special gingerbread, you might like to enter the draw for this special memento. Click here to visit the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

Simply click on the flying angel below to enter and I'll announce a winner next week, 29 April 2013. Good Luck!

Sunday 21 April 2013

Robert Owen's School at New Lanark - Free Jigsaw Download

You can still visit this school room at New Lanark in Scotland - it is very much as it was in the day when the village became famous as a model industrial community under the enlightened management of Dale's son-in-law, Robert Owen, from 1800-1825. Owen transformed life in New Lanark with ideas and opportunities which were at least a hundred years ahead of their time. Child labour and corporal punishment were abolished, and villagers were provided with decent homes, schools and evening classes, free health care, and affordable food. Click here to discover all about New Lanark which is a World Heritage Site.To download the jigsaw - Click here next Click Open, then click the .EXE file name and click Run, when you see the jigsaw puzzle, click Play Too many pieces? Try clicking on Trays on the top tool bar to create any number of resizeable trays to sort your pieces ........ you can also click the Cheat button and watch the puzzle solve itself! The software is by David Gray designer of Jigsaws Galore - the powerful jigsaw player and creator for Windows.

Saturday 20 April 2013

16th Century Stolen Tapestry Returns Home After 34 Years On The Run

The wool and silk 16th century tapestry you can see in the background here, depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, was stolen in December 1979 from the Cathedral of Saint Vincent, Martyr of Roda de Isabena in the Aragon region of northeastern Spain. The work had been sold at auction three years ago for $369,000. Special agents from the Homeland Security Investigations unit seized the artifact last November from the unidentified Texas business that had bought it and now it will be returned to its rightful home. Madrid's ambassador to Washington Ramon Gil-Casares accepted the tapestry on behalf of his nation at a ceremony at his residence. When the tapestry turned up in a Brussels art fair catalogue in 2010, Belgian, Spanish and US investigators established it had been acquired in 2008 by a gallery owner in Belgium along with two partners from Milan and Paris. Today's repatriation is an example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement partners from around the world work together in the effort to ensure that stolen and looted priceless cultural objects like this are returned to their rightful owner, said ICE director John Morton. Since 2007 more than 6,600 artifacts including paintings from Europe, manuscripts from Peru and cultural artifacts from China, Cambodia and Iraq have been returned by the United States to 24 countries.

Friday 19 April 2013

Mapping South - Vivien Caughley

It is always a delight to enjoy the fruits of Vivien's researches in New Zealand. She has recently written a most fascinating article on The Cook Map Sampler which you can read in full by clicking here. (The article commences on page 126 of the journal.) Vivien tells us: This work is an embroidered map sampler of the western hemisphere now in the collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney and has long been attributed to Elizabeth Cook, the Captain’s widow, even though her name as its stitcher appears nowhere on the cloth. Elizabeth Cook’s reputation as an embroiderer is well-established. Two unfinished embroidered waistcoat fronts in the collection of Sydney’s Mitchell Library, on Pacific tapa cloth which her husband reputedly sourced on his second voyage, have also long been attributed to her hand despite the similar absence of a stitched signature. Vivien next leads us on a fabulous voyage of discovery, analyzing the names given to places on the map to try to solve the puzzle of attribution. This is a must read article for all who love the secrets stitched within these precious cloth documents.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Love to Shop * Ribbon Circus Hebden Bridge

Whenever I am in the Noorth, I always call in for a morning, at least, to Hebden Bridge on the border between Yokshire and Lancashire. It is an old mill town with chunks of character and lots of pleasant, small independent shops to enjoy. It is always worth browsing the excellent thrift stores to savour the latest home-cooked gossip in true north accents.

A favourite needlework store is to be found on Albert Street. Ribbon Circus is a lovely haberdashery and knitting shop selling knitting yarns and wools, patterns and accesories, buttons and beads, ribbons and braids and haberdashery for all occasions. YOu can also choose from a gorgeous selection of patterned and plain tissue papers, Roger la Borde greetings cards and felting kits from Gillian Gladrags as well as felting equipment and merino tops. The shop is a riot of colour and is an inspiration to visit. Staff are friendly and there is free parking for one hour outside the shop. That will do nicely! I'm off to make some bunting of my own......

For a Bad Day @ The Office, The Bank Or When They Are Going To Close Your Museum

How about some flash mob stitching? Anyone?

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Together We Stitched It!

Ask not what your museum can do for you - ask what you can do for your museum. It can be so much fun. Just look at some of the 45 women and 2 men, all cheerily at their stitching, who completed together a long sampler to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their museum - De Meestof in Sint-Annaland in the Netherlands. (In the museum there is also a special exhibition about the people from Tholen, many of who emigrated to the USA. Perhaps the most well-known family was the van Rosevelts - ancestors of the US Presidents.)

There is a tableau for each of the years. The work was project managed by Eef de Jonge, who was also responsible for the management of the Longest Sampler in the World in 2000. The sampler is available for exhibition - even to the USA - so Sampler Guilds, here is an unmissable invitation for you! There is also a book of the sampler for sale from Eef de Jonge, click here.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Textiles @ Dallas Museum of Art

Yes, the Dallas Museum of Art does have a sampler, but there is not yet an image of it on line. We do know that it is a Mexican sampler though and if anyone lives near the museum then they might like to investigate. However there is this spectacular mid 18th century Palampore which features a palm springing from its Tree of Life. These cotton chintzed textiles were imported from the early 17th century via the East India Company and specimens reached North America as early as 1700. it takes very little imagination to see the extent to which they influenced local textile and embroidery design. Such as the American bed-rug below of 1803. Most bed rugs were made on a woollen base (this one is on linen) with thick, home-dyed, woollen yarns of multiple plies that were sewn with a running stitch to create the design. Most of the surviving bed rugs come from Connecticut, and virtually all were made in New England. The earliest one known dates from 1724. To visit the Dallas Museum of Art for yourself, click here and type Textile or Embroidered into the search Box.

Monday 15 April 2013

Winner of The Dove Cottage Kit Giveaway

I am delighted to announce that the winner of last week's Dove Cottage Cross-Stitch Kit is Pat. For those of you who prefer knitting you will find in the Dove Cottage Shop a kit to knit your very own Dove Cottage - and there is also another design of the cross-stitch kit that you can purchase. Just click here to visit the shop.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Meetings with Remarkable Women * Monique Lévi-Strauss Talks About Cashmere Shawls

Monique Lévi-Strauss (née Roman) is a textile researcher, well-known not only in France, but also internationally, having arranged textile exhibitions around the globe. She is the undisputed authority on the subject of 19th century French cashmere shawls. At that time there was in France (and also in a Britain) a great craze for these shawls which had come into the country via Egypt with the returning army of the defeated Napoleon. The reaction to them had been immediate and sales exploded. With supplies limited, it wasn't long before home production took off, helped by the technology of the Jacquard loom. You will hear in the interview below, how Monique came to put together an astonishing collection of shawls, a number of which are in the large collection of the Musée du Vieux Nîmes, in the South of France. She began collecting in Parisian flea-markets and bought the best she could at the lowest price, since she didn't have very much money. However, when she asked the sellers about provenance, no-one seemed to know. Astonished that the knowledge of cashmere production and the history of the shawls had largely been forgotten in just over 100 years. Monique set out to research these stunning textiles To date she has authored a number of books on the subject and the one below is perhaps my favourite, though they are all fabulous books. A good and economical source of the books is the Musée du Vieux Nîmes - they do have a shop. You might also be interested to know that Monique Lévi-Strauss was married to the great anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss.