Saturday 31 August 2013

Goya Tapestries

In my youth, I admired some simple Goya sketches of peasants I found in a folder in a small shop in Bloomsbury near the British Museum in London. I could almost have afforded one at the time and thought that the following month, with a few economies, I could probably have the savings to purchase one. The problem was, as with samplers, was which one would I choose? It was impossible to make a choice. Besides, I told myself, I could enjoy the sketches any time I passed the shop, so in a way they were already mine. Or such was my youthful logic at the time. Apart from his noble portraits, the work of Goya conjures for me the sketches he made of the unspeakable acts of men against men when set free to war. Brought up with the romantic and heroic films of WWII, I was plunged into the truth that everyone who had been at war knew, might have hinted at in their sad cups, but never spoke of openly. It was only recently that I found out that all the while, Goya had been one of the chief and most famous designers at the royal tapestry workshops founded nearly 300 years ago by Philip V and located a short walk southeast of Atocha railway station. Goya’s original drawings are in the Prado. The sheer joy and bucolic nature of them like these playful laundresses below is a world away from that dreadful Peninsula War.

Friday 30 August 2013

What Exhibitions in France? Simply Subscribe To Keep Up To Date

If you are planning a trip to France or simply wish to stay au courant with what's on in French museums and galleries, this little, inexpensive publication is heaven-sent just for you. Issued every two months it costs €33 per year for overseas subscribers and lists everything that is happening together with street maps to show you the location of the galleries. Invaluable! Click here for more details or to subscribe.

Thursday 29 August 2013

De Nîmes à Gênes * Textiles in the Musée du Vieux Nîmes * Not Forgetting Buffalo Bill ...

I am a great lover of old pattern books and when I saw these pages in the Musée de Vieux Nîmes, I knew I was lost. The museum itself is located in the beautiful late 17th century bishop's palace in the heart of the old town and brims with textile treasures. Nîmes was famous in the 17th century for its production of woven silks and you can see many examples here. The silk came from the silk worm farmers of the Cevennes. Waste silk - chappe - was mixed with cotton to produce filoselle (and when you buy filoselle for stitching today that is exactly what you are using.) This filoselle was used for warp threads as it was strong and resilient.

It was also used for producing serge which originally was used for sail canvas before being adopted by country folk and those employed in labour that took its toll on clothes. Blue was a colour traditionally favoured by peasants from Greece to the Atlantic seaboard of Spain and so the blue serge became a feature of Nîmois production. But the fabric was not shipped to the New World from Nîmes. The de-nim(es) was transhipped from Cadiz for South America or from Genoa (in French, Gênes) for North America. And that with Mr Levi-Strauss is now history

Folco de Baroncelli like Frederic Mistral was a great amateur of the Occitan way of life and he promoted the cattle herding of the gardiens (cow-boys) of the Camargue. To draw attention to this revived way of life, in 1905 he invited Buffalo Bill and his Sioux chiefs to Nimes, where they set up a huge tent. Baroncelli took the Americans to bull sorting and branding near the village of Gallargues, about 8 miles from Nîmes, in the Camargue. There the Americans were so taken by the event they joined in and the tale was written up in the journal Provenco of 6 January 1906. Ironically, blue jeans are anathema to the gardians’ outfit: Baroncelli insisted the gardiens wear cotton moleskin pants in grey, beige or black!

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Cross Stitch Before Dying!

Of course I was fishing for something completely different when this forthcoming book surfaced in my net. It is a mystery - as yet we have no idea what it will be about as it isn't due for publication for a couple of months, but I thought some of you might be interested to find out more. Just click here for more details.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Barbara's Patchwork Quilt Slip - Can You Help?

I had a very interesting email last week from Barbara from the Yorkshire Branch of the Embroiderers Guild. She was very interested in our post on the forthcoming sale of Diane Pelham Burn's samplers at Dreweatts on 30 August 2013 - particularly the pieces that comprise Lot 46 - 4 framed sets of mounted slips (see next image below) .  She asked me if I knew of other examples and if the ones in Lot 46 had been cut from a larger piece or had been made specifically for applique. The reason for Barbara's questions is that she is researching the patchwork piece above which has a very similar sort of applique. I have seen slips before - but earlier ones, so I cannot offer much help - but maybe you have seen something like these pieces before and can help. If so please click on the flying angel on the right hand side panel and let me know (or leave a comment) and I'll pass all your information direct to Barbara. Thank you.
PS. Did you notice on the piece below that the two motifs in the bottom corners are the same and the one above these are almost the pattern too?
And below you can see the whole glorious quilt that Barbara is researching.

Monday 26 August 2013

Free Give Away - Darning Sampler Booklet

This sweet catalogue of darning samplers was produced by Erna Hiscock some years ago and is full of little images of darning samplers of every kind - Quaker, Norfolk School and school exercises. Simply click on the flying angel below to enter and I'll announce a winner next week, 2 September 2013. Good Luck!

Sunday 25 August 2013

The Holy Roman Emperor's Bonnet * Château d'Écouen Renaissance Museum

Until sold at auction in 1836, this embroidered linen bonnet was kept in the Treasury of the Cathedral of Basle and was accompanied by a signed parchment stating that it belonged to Charles V Emperor. The crown is formed of 4 equal triangles stitched together. One triangle has a Maltese Cross, another the Holy Roman Empire's double-headed eagle surmounted by a crown centred upon an open-work heart which resembles Schwalm work. The bonnet band is composed of 5 semi-circles.
The first is decorated with a flowering three branched motif, surrounded by birds and two eagles. The second has a large bird and rabbits. The third is embroidered with a woman seated in a boat, wearing a pointed hat. She holds a weathervane in one hand and in the other a bird. It is thought that this might be an allegory of Fortune tossed about by the waves. The fourth door semi-circle is devoted to a griffon and the Paschal Lamb and the fifth has the cross of Malta, animals and stylized birds. The technique used is buratto mounted on linen canvas. The semi-circles are bordered with Venetian point needle-lace. The first pattern books for buratto appear in Venice in 1527and so help to date this piece which is thought to be around 1550 ) to the dating of this piece. It is thought that the bonnet was made in Spain. The small diameter of the bonnet suggests that is was used as a lining for the Imperial Crown - it would have topped, not covered his head.

There are some 200 pieces of lace in the Château d'Écouen Renaissance Museum, which can be found just north of Paris. This piece is, comme on dit, probably the crowning glory, belonging as it might have done to a ruler whose dominion spanned the greater part of Europe. To visit the museum, click here.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Michele Walker @ West Dean College * Sashiko Furoshiki * 20-23 October 2013

Sashiko Furoshiki are square-shaped pieces of cloth used for carrying gifts in Japan. Using the sashiko method of stitching pieces of cloth together, course participants will make hand sewn compositions in a spontaneous and individual way using a wide range of materials. Michele Walker is a quilter and her exhibition of Sashiko exhibited around the UK was one of the most splendid textile events of recent years.

The course runs at beautifully situated West Dean College (near Chichester, UK) for the weekend 20 - 23 October 2013. The fee is £286 with 5% reduction for on-line bookings. Click here for more details and to book.

Friday 23 August 2013

Joan Sallas & The Gentle Art Of Napkin Folding

Possibly like me you may have dabbled in a bit of napkin folding yourself for that special dinner party. I learnt to make napkin waterlilies as a child and somehow never quite forgot though the practice is considered a bit infra dig these days. But while I was at Waddesdon admiring the Sacred Stitches exhibition there a little while ago, I did also take some pictures of the virtuoso napkin folding created by Joan Sallas - a Catalan artist, who by the way is male.

And here you can see the heraldic beasts he wrought from - yes - humble table linen. This would certainly be a conversation piece if not a conversation stopper at any party I have been to lately.

I was surprised to learn that napkin folding goes back around 500 years to when starched linen napkins were artfully folded in the courts of North Italy. Much that we know of historic napkin folding derives from Li Tre Trattati by Mattia Giegher published in 1629. Matthias Jager was originally from Bavaria and taught his art at the ancient University of Padua.

This was not simply a case of making lotus or other flower shapes as you can see from his illustrations above!

However, there were examples for the more napkin-folding-challenged to admire and copy and so I thought you might like to take inspiration for these more homely exhibits. Happy Folding!

Thursday 22 August 2013

Diane Pelham Burn's 47 Sampler Lots For Auction @ Dreweatts, Donnington Priory * 30 August 2013

The late Diane Pelham Burn was a lecturer and writer on needlework and thimbles. Her sampler collection represents a foremost passion, and evidences a lifetime of interest in the subject.The daughter of a shoe manufacturer, she was born Diane Rider Hess on November 15 1932 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Like other young girls in her native Maryland, Diane had been taught the rudiments of needlework, producing her first sampler at the age of six. It was not a thing of beauty, but it made her appreciate the skill of the children who had created the antique American and British samplers which her mother collected. Yet it was only after she moved to England in 1964 that she developed her interest into something more serious.
There will be 47 samplers in total for auction, dating from 1640 to the late 19th century, with estimates ranging from £80 to £200. To see the full textile catalogue for this sale, simply click here. Remember, if you wish to bid you will need to establish your credentials early to avoid disappointment. OK in no particular order of personal favouritism there is Lot 1 (top image) worked by Jane Watkins, aged 10 years, circa 1780, designed to the centre with a many windowed house, to the left Justice and to the right Adam and Eve, the upper and lower portions with rows of trees, flowers, animals, birds, crowns and figures in cross, long and short stitches with coloured silks on a wool ground. Measuring 44cm x 33cm the estimate is: £700 - £1,000

Lot 2 is by Elizabeth Morgan, worked in 1828, designed with a cottage, a windmill and animals in a field, the border with flowers and leaves in cross, satin and laid stitches with coloured silks and wool ground. Measuring 14cm x 35.5cm the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 10 is by Elizabeth Smart, born January 10th 1734, designed with Christ on the Cross, the upper section with the alphabet and a prayer worked in eye, cross and Florentine stitches with coloured silks on a linen ground. Measuring 43.5cm x 10cm the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 18 is Dutch, initialled B.C.B. and dated Anno, 1821, designed with isolated motifs of a sailing ship, a house, a windmill, flowering plants in vases, birds in birdcages, angels, figures and birds, a tall upright plant to either side worked in coloured silks with mainly cross stitches on a linen ground. Measuring 38cm x 45cm the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 24 is by Jane Lawson of Kincardine, a Scottish multiplication table, dated May 18 1800, designed with vertical and horizontal rows of numbers, the left portion including a prayer, the upper section and border with the alphabet and numerals worked in cross and eye stitches with blue silks on a linen ground. Measuring 28.5cm square the estimate is: £600 - £800

Lot 32 is an English long sampler dated 1669 with the initials ME, designed with rows of the alphabet, roses, acorns, upright and inverted plants, boxers and honeysuckle worked in coloured silks with stem, satin, buttonhole and herringbone stitches on a linen ground. It measures 74cm x 20cm and the estimate is: £1,500 - £2,000

Lot 33 is a spot needlework sampler, probably Dutch, circa 1720. The linen ground with flower sprays and plants within a geometric border worked in Rococo eye and cross stitches with coloured silks. It meaures 23cm x 32cm and the estimate is: £200 - £300

Lot 35 was worked by Hilled Alexander, aged 14 in 1750, a Scottish needlework sampler, designed with a row of flowers and one with figures wearing breeches beside a flowering plant, the lower portion with a house, crowns, initials, birds, animals and trees, worked mainly in cross stitch with coloured silks on a wool ground. Measuring 30cm x 26.5cm the estimate is: £800 - £1,200

Lot 36 is signed Fanney Martin, her work 1773,  designed with a figure of William Shakespeare and a quote from The Tempest Act IV Scene 1 within an octagonal border, the surround with a church, a clock, vases of flowers, two houses, trees, fruit and flowering plants, with coloured silks on a wool ground worked in cross, chain, long and short stitches. Measuring 54cm x 34cm, the estimate is: £1,500 - £2,000

Lot 46 is a set of 4 collections of William and Mary or Queen Anne needlework samples (only one shown above), late 17th/early 18th century, depicting figures, castles and other buildings, animals and birds, later arranged and mounted on four rectangular linen panels, framed and glazed. The estimate for all is: £300 - £500. Happy bidding!

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Michele Carragher * Supreme Embroiderer of Game of Thrones

It is Linda's granddaughter, Jenn, who is about to take up a design internship with Michael Kors in New York (Good Luck, Jen) who is to be thanked for drawing our attention to the fabulous embroidery work of Michele Carragher that can be seen in Game of Thrones. Michele is London-based hand embroiderer and illustrator who has been working in costume on film and television productions for over 15 years. She studied Fashion Design at The London College of Fashion simultaneously with a three year evening course in Saddlery at Cordwainers College learning skills in leatherwork.

After leaving college Michele worked in Textile Conservation, repairing and restoring historical textiles for private collectors and museums, specialising in hand embroidery. She then moved into a career in costume for film and television, initially working as a Costume Assistant/Maker on productions such as the BBC's Our Mutual Friend, ITV's David Copperfield and Mansfield Park. She soon gravitated towards the decoration and embellishment of costumes, using skills in hand embroidery and surface decoration, taking inspiration from the many historical textiles she had encountered working as a Textile Conservator. The first production that saw her undertake the role of a Principal Costume Embroiderer was for HBO's 2005 Emmy Costume award-winning production of Elizabeth 1. Her most recent work has been on HBO's 2012 Costume award-winning television series Game of Thrones, working on all three seasons.

As a Costume Embroiderer Michele specialises in hand embroidery and surface embellishment, using traditional hand embroidery techniques, smocking, beading and surface decoration. She works directly onto the completed garment or starts with motifs and textures on silk crepeline/organza, which are applied to the costume and then worked into once on the actual garment. She also works on existing machine embroidery designs that are not too dense, adding some hand stitching and beading to give a more authentic, hand-finished look. She finds hand embroidery has more flexibility and diversity than that of embroidery created by machine, as there is a greater variety of thread choice and colours to use. It is also possible to work more easily on garments that are already constructed. However, machine embroidery in combination with hand work can be very useful when completing many repeats by creating light outlines or a less dense machine stitch, work can then be completed by hand and again can be carried out on a finished garment. The time lapse video clip below shows you one of her works in creation. To find out more about Michele, click here.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Saved By Mud - The 14th Century Anjou Textile * Castle Museum * Budapest

In a well nearly 14 metres deep in the grounds of the former Teleki Palace archaeologists searched a 5 meters thick layer of mud. At the bottom were coins minted 1390 and 1427. Some 10 metres down, appearing like a mud ball, they found this silk patchwork depicting the Hungarian–Angevin coat-of-arms together with a number of other silk finds. The mud has conserved the material although the pigments of the dyes have deteriorated. Traces of stitches suggest that the work was backed. A three-forked floating motif depicting a letter ‘E’ lying flat can be seen overlaying the lilies in the Angevin shield. This device, called abatement in heraldry, links the find with the royal house of Naples which was ruled by the French house of Anjou at that time.

Its mode of working was in the form of appliqué embroidery sewn together from individual elements. The original size is not known. In its present form, it was coarsely cut on some edges and turned, something possibly explained by attempts to mend the damaged material. The device suggests that the owner must have been a ruler of the Angevin dynasty or someone from his close environment. A similar cloth covers the back of the throne on the 3rd great double seal of King Charles Robert Charles a scion of the Angevins of Naples. King Charles Robert ordered 80 feet of red, white and blue silk from Naples to make banners for his court, leading to speculation that Petrus Simonis Gallicus, the designer of the King's seal, also designed the Anjou Textile in the early 14th century
For more details, click here.

Monday 19 August 2013

Samplers @ Holdsworth House

About a year ago I booked a Yorkshire mansion for a special family gathering in Yorkshire and we were all looking forward to spending time together and celebrating a special birthday. You can imagine what a feat of planning it takes to get all the family members - young and old - together at any one time. So, I was hugely disappointed when my booking was cancelled by the property owners a couple of months before the big day. I searched and searched for somewhere in the right locality that could hold us all - with no joy at all. It looked like we would have to settle for a hotel and my heart sank because I was really looking for a special place with personality where we could be a little informal together. In effect, I was looking for a second home.
And - surprise - that is what a final last search turned up. A lovely 17th century hotel, just outside of Halifax in Yorkshire that was called, auspiciously Holdsworth House. And not only was it called Holdsworth House, it was on Holdsworth Road, in Holdsworth! This place could be no other than our ancestral seat and I felt so right in my bones about it.

And my instincts were right. It was a perfect place in every way. We were greeted with a glass of wine (as is everyone) upon arrival. The staff are warm, helpful but not intrusive. The rooms are gorgeous, the knot gardens are a delight and the food was exquisite. The only downside was having to leave...

I almost forget to tell you - there are samplers on the walls! Can you see some of them on the far wall above the settee? And I have to say that if you are thinking of gathering for a stitching retreat that will put you not far from visits to Ackworth School, The Bronte Parsonage, the brilliant textile collection at the Bankfield Museum, this is the perfect venue. And also for a special romantic weekend. I shall be back! Click here for more details of Holdsworth House.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Schifanoia Jigsaw 2 - Free Jigsaw Download

This is the second jigsaw from the Salone dei Mesi in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara and is an allegory for the Month of April. Here can be seen young women and men coming out when the sun begins to shine in spring for a little flirtatious time together - the copious population of bunnies perhaps says it all!  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 17 August 2013

Old Bleach Linens * Ireland

While rereading some of my early embroidery journals, I came across these adverts for a linen company that was still marketing their traditional cloths in 1955 and I was thrilled to see that they were at that time still putting out their cloths to bleach in the fields.

Old Bleach Linens was established in 1864 by Charles James Webb, a Quaker, in Randalstown near the northern bank of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.

Randalstown was originally known as An Dun Mor, it was renamed Randalstown after the 2nd Earl and 1st Marquis of Antrim Randal MacDonnell. The fortune of the town depended on the success of the various industries established on the east bank of the river, one being an iron forge the other being the linen factory. There had been a strong tradition of weaving in the area and the plentiful supplies of water from the nearby River Maine meant Randalstown was an excellent site. Then of course, there was the demand for linen from both parties in the American Civil War which helped boost trade.

Now Old Bleach is one of the units of Coats Viyella- the largest textile group in Europe - and is still one of the biggest employers in the area. The area was also a Potwalloping borough which meant that if anyone had in his house, a hearth large enough to boil, or wallop, a cauldron, or pot of yarn then he was entitled to vote.