Friday 31 May 2013

From the Exotic to the Mystical * de Young Museum, San Francisco * Until 4 August 2014

It is always wonderful to know that Needleprint contributes in any small way to help to reassemble the far flung pieces of the textile puzzle, so I was particularly delighted to hear from Kristen Stewart of the de Young Museum that our blog post about the giraffe samplers had been a help when documenting a rather wonderful bed cover in their collection, featuring a printed textile with this same giraffe. (Below you can see images of the whole spread.) It is also a pleasure to pass on the news that the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have a splendid exhibition at the moment. Entitled From the Exotic to the Mystical: Textile Treasures from the Permanent Collection, this exhibition is displaying approximately 40 objects drawn from the Museums’ extensive holdings of textile arts. This selection represents 15 centuries of textile arts and includes finely detailed English embroideries, playful Spanish laces, elaborate French ecclesiastical vestments, and many others. The majority of works in this exhibition have never before been seen on public display.

Kristen tells me: These textiles illustrate the continuing human interest in exploring foreign realms, both geographic and metaphysical. Allegorical imagery serves as the overarching theme of the exhibition, which is further organized into four distinct sections: exoticism, mythology, religious symbolism, and the fantasized animal world. A tapestry depicting an Asian monarch believed to be the Kangxi Emperor, a lace featuring a beast part serpent and part bull, and even a napkin bearing a representation of Apollo, all display the impulse to transcend ordinary circumstances, and to enter the more abstract spheres of history, religion, and myth. From the Exotic to the Mystical showcases in particular many true masterpieces from the Museums’ European holdings. Examples include the renowned tapestry An Audience for the Emperor, woven in France around 1722 at the height of the Chinoiserie craze, and a full set of liturgical vestments from the reign of Louis XIV that rank among the most brilliant achievements of French needlework in the age of the Sun King. Among the objects from outside of Europe is a fragment—probably of a tunic—from 6th century Egypt, featuring an array of mermaids. This exhibition offers a glimpse into the breadth of the Museums’ textile collection, one of the largest and most comprehensive of its type in the United States, which includes more than 13,000 textiles and costumes spanning two and a half millennia and representing cultures from 125 countries. From the Exotic to the Mystical also celebrates the legacy of Anna Gray Bennett, a champion for the study of European textile traditions. Ms. Bennett, who died in 2012, was the founding curator for textile arts at the Museums.

For more details about this not-to-be-missed exhibition, which also includes the delightful Beauvais tapestry pictured below, click here.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Sampler Identification Days 2013 * USA * Wilmington 8 June * Dover 15 June * Lewes 18 July

Photo by Evan Krape
The University of Delaware’s Sampler Archive Project invites the public to bring their antique American samplers to one of three upcoming “Sampler ID Days” so that the needlework can be registered, documented and photographed for inclusion in a national heritage database to debut online in 2014. The dates are: June 8 at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington; June 15 at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover; and July 18 at the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Morning hours are for individuals with appointments; afternoon hours are for both appointments and drop-ins. Appointments are required for anyone bringing three or more samplers to allow adequate time for documentation and photography. To schedule an appointment, call 1-877-909-2525 or email The Sampler Archive Project is a national effort to develop a searchable online database of information and images for all known American samplers and related schoolgirl embroideries from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The project was launched two years ago through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to the University’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Funding from the Delaware Humanities Forum is supporting the project’s latest initiative to locate, document and photograph these historic needle works in public and private collections in the First State and neighbouring communities. This is a wonderful initiative which will help future scholarship. However, if you allow your sampler to be imaged, do check copyright issues. Make sure you retain control over how your image is used, by whom and for what purposes - and in what size images (large enough to chart from or thumb nail for reference?). If you have any concerns do not be afraid to ask or reserve your permission until you have more information. Perhaps this is something you could do in your country?

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Interesting Ackworth School Sampler for Auction @ Elliotts 1 June 2013

Naomi Neild's hybrid Quaker medallion sampler dated 1802 is for auction at on 1 June 2013 at Elliotts UK Auctioneers. With its unique configuration, it is a most interesting example. It is Lot 42 and has an estimate of £50 - £70. Click here for more details. Naomi was Scholar #1832 who entered Ackworth in 1799. She was from the village of Ackworth itself. For more details click here.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Chinese Sampler In East Riding of Yorkshire Museums On-Line

The East Riding of Yorkshire - that is the third of the county of Yorkshire that lies by the North Sea Coast - is in the process of putting the sampler collections from its museums on-line. But it was this sampler, which ever-so-vaguely reminded me of a Quaker sampler, that took my attention first. It is an item from a Chinese collection brought back by Ida Miles when she returned from China, where she had been a missionary from 1888 to 1921. It is worked on coarse cream linen, its ends blanket-stitched. It displays a number of designs in blue cross-stitch in rather haphazard placement and is described as not skilled work.

To see this sampler and others, simply click here.

Monday 27 May 2013

Winner Of The Norfolk Wherry Kit

.... is Bonnie from Canada. Congratulations Bonnie!

Sunday 26 May 2013

Ros Tapestry - Free Jigsaw Download

We recently looked at the Ros Tapestry which is to be found in Wexford, Ireland. Here is one of the paintings for a panel of this fabulous embroidery which depicts the marriage of Isabel de Clare and William Marshal at Stoke d'Abernon in Surrey. The couple are supported by two of William's friends - Gilbert Pipart and Engerrand de Abernon. Above the bride and bridegroom can be seen a smaller vignette showing the marriage of Isabel's mother - Aoife - to Richard de Clare which legitimised William's claim to the province of Leinster. Though Isabel was just 18 and William nearly 50, the couple were happily married and Isabel bore 5 sons and 5 daughters. It was the daughters who inherited as the sons all died without issue. 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 25 May 2013

105 Embroidery Articles in the Burlington Magazine On-Line Archives

Burlington Magazine, a long-standing pillar of the arts in Britain, has created an online searchable index of all their articles from 1903-2002. There are 105 articles relating to embroidery in the Burlington Magazine archive - to download a pdf list, click here. If you would like to see more, you can set up a free account with the Burlington Magazine by logging onto their website - click here to do that. Articles can be read on line by JSTOR subscribers. You can have access to 3 articles free by registering as a researcher with JSTOR - click here to do that.

Friday 24 May 2013

Yarndale 2013 * 28- 29 September * Skipton, UK

Yarndale is a festival of creativity celebrating traditional and contemporary crafts using wool, cotton, linen and silk in an area which is still the home of many yarn based businesses: Skipton whose name is derived from the Old English word sceap meaning sheep. Known as the gateway to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Skipton is famed for its 900 year old medieval castle, home to the feisty Lady Ann Clifford, and historic cobbled high street. Sheep are vital to this hill farming region and have a massive impact on the life and landscape of this area of outstanding natural beauty. Yarndale is an exciting new event for established and new creative talents and is held in the Auction Mart. With over 100 exhibitors this is a definitely-not-to-be-missed event. For more details, click here.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Dorothy Ferry Strauser

While looking through embroidered items for auction recently, I stumbled upon the work of Dorothy Strauser. This jolly piece was described as embroidered which to my eye it jolly well wasn't - and so, drawn in and intrigued, I decided I need to know more about its maker. In fact, in the auctioneer's notes even the name of the artist was incorrectly spelled and so I became duty bound to put the record straight for Dorothy - all the more so since she passed away in 2005 aged 96 and couldn't answer for herself.

You can see here that a mark of her works is her initials: DFS. The F is for her maiden name, not her middle given name, which commenced with C. Dorothy, fondly called Dot, lived most of her life in East Stroudsburg where she was known as a gifted watercolor artist and maker of hooked rugs. She was born in 1908 in Hazleton to Grover and Mary Ferry. She married Sterling Strauser in 1928, her high school sweetheart, and they both went on to attend Bloomsburg University.

Dorothy was a self-taught artist who made hooked rug pictures from textiles she collected and dyed herself. Her works like World Peace above are much sought after. Besides being artists, Dorothy and Sterling were collectors and supporters of American folk art. In recognition of their efforts, authors Chuck and Jan Rosenak dedicated to the couple their exhaustive Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists in 1991; the Folk Art Society of America awarded Dorothy and Sterling its Annual Award of Distinction in 1993; and Dorothy won COTA’s award for the visual arts in 2003. They have one daughter, Jill, born in 1933.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Even Vets In Their Onesies Do It!

Some of you know that my great-niece is in Vet school - at the moment she's working hard on her dissertation. Unthinkable in my day, she boards in a mixed house. The other day she grabbed these shots going through the living room of Ed, one of the other Vet students, knitting. This aroused such interest, that now they are all now knitting or learning to knit. Ed was taught to knit by his granny. Isn't that wonderful - that a grandson was taught to knit, that he bothered himself to learn, still remembers and can show others how a Teletubby does it? (PS Just heard my great niece has achieved her first degree and is now enlisted to study for a Master's degree.)

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Albert Edelfelt's The Boys’ Workhouse, Helsinki For Auction @ Sotheby's 23 May 2013

On 23 May 2013 Sotheby’s London will offer a celebrated work by Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt in its sale of 19th Century European Paintings, along with other important works by Scandinavian artists. Painted in 1885, The Boys’ Workhouse, Helsinki comes to auction for the first time in almost thirty years, with an estimate of £350,000-450,000 (€411,000-530,000). The painting, which combines the influences of Edelfelt’s years in France with his innate love of his homeland, will be on public view in Helsinki on Friday, 26 April at the Galerie Donner (Havsgatan 1, Helsinki, Finland) from 10am to 12.30pm. In attendance will be Adrian Biddell, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s 19th Century European Paintings Department, Claude Piening, Senior Director, 19th Century European Paintings, and Anna-Maija Bernard, appointed by Sotheby’s in 2012 as the company’s representative in Helsinki.

Monday 20 May 2013

Free Draw - Norfolk Wherry Cross Stitch Kit

The Wherry was once a common sight on the Norfolk Broads - strange, ancient inland waterways that are now a tourist attraction. The large, shallow boats - around 50 feet long and 15 broad - made excellent cargo-carriers.

With the coming of railways and better roads for transportation of the goods, the wherries were converted into pleasure boats. Nowadays, they are seldom seen at all, having falling into disrepair over the many years. However, a number have been restored thanks to wherry enthusiasts and craft like the Albion, the wherry pictured in this kit, can still be seen. To see them gliding through the low flat Norfolk landscape is truly one of the loveliest sights I know.
Simply click on the flying angel below to enter and I'll announce a winner next week, 27 May 2013. Good Luck!

Sunday 19 May 2013

Lace-Makers of Bologna * Exhibition * 1 - 9 June 2014

The fabulous work of this incredible group of lovers of traditional needle-made lace will be on show again this year in the wonderful arcaded, ancient university city of Bologna, famous for its two great towers. The unmissable exhibition opens Saturday 1 June at 4.30pm and continues until 9 June each day from 10am - 12.30pm and 3.30pm - 7pm at the Oratorio dei Teatini, Basilica dei Santi Bartolomeo e Gaetano, Strada Maggiore, 4 - 40125 Bologna.

Saturday 18 May 2013

First Bath Textile Summer School * 18-23 August 2014

Don't miss on a thrilling needlework adventure organized by Lynne Roche, the famous doll-maker. Come to the beautiful city of Bath, in the summer of next year to learn from some of the most exciting internationally renowned textile artists and teachers. Also enjoy the venues where the workshops will take place - the American Museum and the Holburne Museum. Both the museums have fantastic textiles amongst their unique collections which you can see excerpted here and participants will be able to immerse themselves in the museums' treasures.

The Summer School will take place from Monday 18 August to Saturday 23 August when there will be a textile fair at the American Museum. The Summer School takes place against a backdrop of a greatly anticipated retrospective exhibition of Kaffe Fassett in the gallery at the American Museum. There will be nine 2-day workshops to choose from in an exciting program of textile technique and creativity. Not forgetting a free day to enjoy Bath, when there will be a super program of optional diverse textile related lectures at the Holburne Museum, a morning walk around the city in the company of Dr Allan Phillipson who will bring the city alive telling of its extraordinary history and past inhabitants both real and fictional. Finishing with a get-together and supper in the Holburne's lovely new café.

You are welcome to come to just one workshop but why not sign up for the whole week and enjoy 2 workshops and all the activities on offer! At the moment the tutors include: Janet Bolton; Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn; Lesley Turpin Delport from South Africa; Nikki Delport Wepener from South Africa and Hong Kong; Jenny Adin-Christie; Sandra Meech. Please register your interest in taking part by emailing Lynne now.

Friday 17 May 2013

Mr Kipling's Rather Good Samplers at Bateman's & More

Spring has sprung and as it was later this year, it seems that everything has burst out together in a wild frothy compression. Yesterday while biking along the tops of the South Downs (actually I was more blown along than bowling along) I saw oxlips and rare wild orchids. It was lovely to be out and about again after a bit of misery with a chopped off finger tip. One of my recent convalescent outings was to Bateman's in Burwash, once home to Rudyard Kipling of Jungle Book fame.

The house is owned by the National Trust, and we were allowed some grab shots inside the house. I was told that photography is permissible without flash. Evidently each house has a ration of light which must not be exceeded, and that is why no flash is allowed. This restriction is to avoid as much as possible deterioration caused by light. Bateman's has 4 map samplers including one of Europe, and 2 other samplers.

What is really astonishing is a whole wall covered in Cordoba leather which has been gilded and painted to look like the most gorgeous palimpore. This wonderful piece is from the early 18th century and gives you an idea of how much inspiration for embroidery surrounded the well-to-do girls of the house - and of course how much embroidered and printed textiles from the Far East influenced general house decoration. The Kiplings commissioned the Royal School of Needlework to furnish embroidered cushions and hangings for a four poster bed to match their 17th century collection of furniture.

Bateman's is a beautiful place to go sampler spotting. It has its own mill that produces flour for sale (down by the race amongst the wild garlic and sweet perfumed balsalm poplars), an excellent tea room and gift shop, and wonderful paths to explore through the rolling Sussex hills

Thursday 16 May 2013

baa ram ewe at Cockermouth Woolfest * 28/29 June 2013

If you ever have the pleasure to be in the historic spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire, be sure, after you have fortified yourself at Betty's Café, to visit baa ram ewe at 23 Cold Bath Gardens.

There you will find everything you need in knitting paradise.

And more - I love these polka dot tipped knitting needles and below the herdy stitch counters.
And don't forget you can see baa ram ewe and many other yarn delights at the Cockermouth Woolfest this year.
Click here for more details. Thank you to Lea for sharing this news.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Help Holburne Museum Raise £5,000 For This Stuart Beadwork Basket

Needleprint has just donated and I hope you will be able to find something spare to add to the fund to make sure that this wonderful basket stays with the museum. Over £1,000 of the necessary £6,000 has already been raised, but the money does need to be in by July. This quite extraordinary basket made entirely from thousands of tiny glass beads - it is exquisitely made, historically fascinating, irresistibly charming and slightly mad. Made in England in the seventeenth century it has much in common with the Holburne's wonderful collection of seventeenth-century embroideries, but where they have faded, here the glass beads retain their astonishingly vibrant colours. There are a few other such baskets in existence, but none are as splendid as this example and none, that we know, have the glass heads and hands of the king and queen at its centre. To find out more and make a kind contribution, click here. To see the video appeal, click here. Thank you for your support. And many thanks to Lynne Roche for bringing this to our attention.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Speechless in SW1 * The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace * In Fine Style : The Art of Tudor & Stuart Fashion * 10 May - 6 October 2013

Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Wouldn't you be - if you saw this? A shepherdess and her flock among trees created by wires filled with needlelace, sits on top of a fabulous casket.

Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Here you can see the entire casket which was created around 1660-1690. It was presented to Queen Mary by Lord Plender (1861-1946) in 1932.

Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

H. Avray Tipping describes it in Country Life ( 8 May 1920) 'It is a typical box of the mid-seventeenth century, retaining its original gilt-metal lock plate and handles, but untypical in that it is particularly elaborate. The scenes on the main panels are at least partly Biblical (eg The Sacrifice of Isaac), while the frieze contains depictions of animals, insects, birds and flowers. What is most extraordinary is the top, which is arranged as a landscape with a shepherdess and her flock among trees created by wires sustaining the needlework.' He also writes that it is 'from a house in Hampshire, the name of which it is desired should not be given.'

Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This casket or small cabinet is covered with long stitch needlework in silk, with a scene of figures in a landscape on the top, which opens, and a figure on each of the doors. The cabinet opens in three places and includes divisions, recesses, drawers and hidden compartments, and contains several small articles. Needlework caskets such as these were used for a variety of purposes and frequently contained receptacles for ink and sand, bottles for perfumes and sections for combs and needlecases. The lower portion, consisting of small drawers, often included hidden compartments at the back, found by pulling out partitions. Also known as ‘The Little Gidding Cabinet’, this casket was probably the work of one of the Miss Colletts, nieces of Nicholas Ferrar who founded the Little Gidding community in Huntingdonshire in 1626. Both girls, who were famous for their skills at needlework and embroidery, were brought up in the community, which devoted itself to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. According to tradition, the casket was acquired by Charles I and left with the community for safekeeping. The cabinet remained in the Collett family and was eventually sold, with other relics from the community, in 1892. It was purchased by Queen Victoria for £25.

Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

This exquisite silk, silver and gold thread needlework pomander purse is covered in needlework of floral design with a gold fringe and drawstring with four tassels and measures barely 2 inches in its body.

Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Do get along to see In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion is at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. The exhibition runs from Friday, 10 May 2013 to Sunday, 06 October 2013. You can read all about it and see all the exhibits with zoomable lenses by clicking here.

Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II