Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Miniature Queen Anne on eBay this week

New eBay Specials This week

   I have put the last of my Retired  Nicol Sayre Easter bunnies on eBay this week, as well as some wonderful Spring dollies~ Gnome Hilde & her Mushroom & little Petit Mon Cher~ she is a miniature that fits in the palm of ones hand~to see them just click on my eBay Specials link in the sidebar

Monday, February 24, 2014

Assembling the center panel on the basket

The Fun Part!

  Ah the fun part!  This is the final configuration I decided upon during my 'cling form' session. I beaded a rainbow, but never did like the look of it even before I finished it, and it didn't fit anyway so out it went!
 To make up the center panel, the first thing I did was turn the basket upside down and stitch the background net to it at each little wire ring.
 I then flipped it back over, and sat it up on two hat boxes so that I could have both hands free for wiring the pieces onto the netting. For this I used super fine near invisible wire. I poked holes in the vellum of the motifs with a needle first to open a place where the wire would pass thru easily.  I always had in mind the amount of space the wreath would overlap and spaced the pieces accordingly~ if I would have put the cloud and sun directly to the edge of the panel up against the lattice, aLOT of it would be totally hidden behind the wreath, so I moved it away from the edge
 Wreath has been 'fouffed' to leaves standing straight up, so I could pass the wire around thru them without catching the leaves themselves...this seemed to take forever~ my arms go so tired! It took over an hour just to attach the wreath
  Then I had fun primping and bending the leaves into shape.  I was not pleased with how stark the wires looked tho, I did not want them to be so noticeable, so to blend them with the beadwork more,
each got lightly tinted with watercolor paints to match the bead colors.  I enlarged my photo of the Corning baskets wires and they too blended with the bead colors. One can tell the wire is the same wire, but it takes on a different tint for each motif. It was impossible to tell from the photo those wires were painted or wrapped in silk.   The only other basket I know of that uses this same technique of wire framed twill beadwork is held at the Maidstone Museum in Kent, and its wire frames I have examined up close and are wrapped in a very fine silk thread in color to match the beads.
  In my next post I will share what wire I used for my pieces, and how I prepared it prior to use

Friday, February 21, 2014

Assembling the Center Panel Wreath Surround

Leaves.....More Leaves.....Still, More Leaves!

   This is what I kept saying to myself.  Every time I thought, Ok....I am done with the leaves...I would loosely fit them together and nope....need to make more leaves!  I finally settled on 96.  I wont get into wiring the shapes just yet~ that is coming up next.  To assemble the wreath, first I laid all my pieces out in the color order I wanted them. I used a light and dark green, and a goldish brown color of beads to keep things interesting
  Once laid out in an order I liked, I started from the top, or back most set of leaves. I made it the same way I make my real wreaths at Christmas time~ even used the same green floral wire.  My first set was wired together, then the next one laid on and a couple wraps around with the wire, then the next and the next
  Wrap the wire round as tightly as possible, I mean, really tight, otherwise, one can simply pull out a leaf by tugging ever so slightly. I went round each single leaf stem 3 or 4 times with the wire, and used it right off the spool~ meaning, I had the entire spool in my hand and wrapped each side of the wreath with a single length of wire
 The beginning and ending tails are left quite long to attach both sides together with
  This is the front side, the leaves are densely packed and flat. I will not bend them around to shape until on the basket
  First side done. easy. Now the second side is laid out.  The second side will give you fits trying to get it the same length as the first, so have your first side right there, and every other leaf or so, check your length to keep yourself on track. I made, took apart and remade and took apart and remade the second side at least three times before I got it to where I wanted it

  I checked several times placement on the basket to be sure they would fit right before I finished them in silk

  All of my wires are hidden beneath soie ovale.  If you are not familiar with it, it s a wonderful flat untwisted filament silk. I am wearing gloves because it catches on even the most microscopic of nothings, and my hands are so rough~ I have never ever had nice pretty girls soft hands!  Again, starting from the top, the entire piece is wrapped in the soie ovale to cover the wire wrapping. One at a time, several wraps around each leaf is made.
 Absolutely not visible from the front, I still wanted my basket to look just as nice from the underside.

  Now comes the fun fun part, assembling the center panel on the basket!  If you grew up in the 1970s, you should remember the 'cling form' toys that were so popular~ if you don't, they were packaged like a board game with a scene on the board coated in plastic. With it came a bunch of little plastic sticker looking pieces that you could position around on the board to make scenes. They clung to it by static electricity, hence the name Cling Form~ anyway, this next step reminded me of that game a lot, as I had all my pieces finished and I could put them where ever I wanted, it was pretty fun ;)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Beaded Stumpwork Angel Continued....

Those Wings!

   I will admit my favorite part of the angel was making her wings. To make them look like they were made of real feathers, I made each feather element up individually.  Stumpwork is a fun game, if you have the patience for it. One literally can spend months making up all the tiny pieces of the puzzle....little piles of things everywhere...and not until the very end when you put them all together do you get to see what it will look like!
  Tiny little sugar beads as I call them, because they are literally some smaller than a grain of sugar...are strung onto wire. I left a little tail and then bent it into a little ring and that is what I stitched down onto the vellum
  Starting from the furthest most points of her wings, and working fwd, each was laid on one at a time, following my penciled pattern
   After I got her wing feathers attached, I stitched the skirting of her gown to the vellum on three sides only, leaving the hem free
  Last on was her hair, I think total in length this is about 13" of strung beads
  Once she was complete, the final step was to carefully cut the excess vellum away being careful to not cut into the stitching of the beadwork
 Her wrap was laid on, and now she is ready to go onto the background with the other elements~ the clouds and sun and the banner she will hold with my name and date on it. I made up the rainbow, but it just didnt look right and made everything too crowded, so I decided not to use it.  The only thing left now is the beautiful wreath that will surround the center panel

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The 18th Century Baby

 A c1740 Fine Linen Christening set

   It is extremely difficult to try and research early baby clothes~ especially undergarments~ of practically any point in history.....they were used and used and then turned to rags and thrown out. We have a plethora of period paintings that show the outer garments...but what the heck did baby wear underneath?  Above is just part of an extremely precious and rare near complete original c1740 Christening suite, or set of clothing.  Yes, it is very fine, and obviously aristocratic in nature, but the pieces are still a good example of the layers of clothing worn. A lower class baby would have worn the same, but of less fine materials, and without the lace insertions.
Clockwise from the top ~ Chemise or shirt, bonnet, forehead cloth, pair of mitts and muff.
   All made of very fine linen edged in handmade lace with insertions in all of Hollie point lace with flower and crown designs.  The chemise is front opening that would have been pined closed.   We mostly only see these garments displayed very statically, lying flat or pasted up on a wall behind glass....again, flat and lifeless. It is hard to picture how the clothing moved and draped on the child
  Which is where my little helper, Livy, comes to the rescue.  And I must say here, before all of you go emailing me, Livy is a mannequin. I would never and will never condone dressing a wiggly spritley drooling baby in such important rare apparel!
  The forehead cloth is a curious triangle of fabric with ties on each end that was worn under the cap. It held babys hair away from the face, as well as protected the cap from and hair oils. It could also be worn indoors by itself....very informally, but baby still had the head covered.  It's purpose was not to protect the 'soft spot' on baby's head, as it was also worn by adults.
  The lace cuffs have little eyelet holes on each end for a set of sleeve links to connect
   Very fine Hollie point needle lace over each shoulder matches design on all pieces

    I left this larger so you can click on to see the design~ flowers and crowns for a privileged little one
  For modestly a modern time's sake, Livy is wearing a modern diaper. An 18th c baby would be wearing a square of  linen pined on underneath the gown.  At this time in the mid 18th c there were new ideas blossoming of how and how not to dress baby~ they were becoming more relaxed with swaddling fading out of fashion. Babies were certainly dressed still in layer upon layer upon layer of clothing, but I have no doubt that at home, in the privacy of ones own, many a babe were dressed in underthings.....
  And having experience of four children of my own, most likely went about in no clothing at all

Friday, February 14, 2014

Making up a Beaded Stumpwork Figure

  Many early beaded baskets incorporate thick paper or playing cards for the foundation layers of different pieces of their design~ I chose to use a thick vellum for the foundation of my angel. I first lightly drew my design on with a pencil. In the photo above, I have first stitched my little angel face into position. I drilled threes small sets of holes for this, one at each shoulder/side of the chest, and one thru her head behind her eyes (not to worry, she was knocked out and didn't feel a thing).  The very bottom part of her gown has been couched straight to the vellum, as has half her bodice.
  Next step is to pad up her arms~ I wanted them to look like arms...not flat like her gown, so I stitched a base layer of old muslin in each area, and lightly stuffed them with wool. I then attached her hands by stitching them on thru the little wired loop at the wrist. If you are interested in purchasing a set of head & hands, they are in my blog store  here 
   For her bodice and sleeves, each row of beads was laid on in a single line, then couched down around the previous row every 5 beads or so, to hook them all together
  For her skirt, I started with a beaded wire bent to the shape I wanted. Now remember here, clothing will be a weird wonky shape when you are beading it flat, and will be much that when placed on your figure it will drape nicely.
  I filled the shape with couched beads, like I did on her bodice, but not so close and pulled them apart a bit for a nice lacy look. I added the little beaded loops at the hem last
   Quite dainty, and heavy. My husband even remarked how heavy this piece was when held in the hand.
The wired edges made her skirt fold like a dream~ for now, it will be set aside and attached to the vellum after her wings and hair are complete.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Utterly Overwhelmed & Honored

And a Contest!

  My basket won Grande Prize in the contest, and was revealed yesterday on the Thistle Threads blog~ you can go and read about it and the other wonderful winners here .
  I am so thrilled and so honored and just down right overwhelmed at the response it has gotten~ thank you all so much for your kind comments and emails 

 I have kept exact count of each and every bead, and every minute of work that has gone into the making, and thought it would be wonderful to have a little game of fun~ like guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar~ only now, Lamora of Access Commodities  has donated wonderful new embroidery threads for the prizes~ so follow the link above and send Tricia an email~ (dont send them to ME~ they wont count!!) and try and guess how many beads you think there are...or how many hours and minutes of work it took to complete!
 I have also added special order miniature sculpted figures for Stumpwork over on the Diamond K Folk Art Shoppe blog for those of you who have emailed me and asked for them~  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Beaded Stumpwork....

Just Don't Think About It....
So how does one wrap their mind around a 17th c stump work angel...but instead done in beads....when they have never done bead work or stump work before. Easy. You just don't think about it. If I would have stopped to think over how to do everything, well I probably wouldn't have even started.  My best advise to anyone, and I say it all the time is "Just do it!" 
  To make my design for the center panel, I first took a pen and traced around the lines of the angel I wanted to keep~ the major points of her face, her hands, arms and gown. Heck just studying her gown became very confusing..and then, do I give her feet? No feet? and what exactly is she doing with her arms outstretched???  I needed her to fit into the context of my basket....I wanted her to look like she was at home there...not cut out of a magazine and pasted in like a collage
   This is a first draft of my design~ I just wanted to get the elements in that I knew I wanted drawn on there~ herself, and secondly, the smiling sun we see on 90% of 17th embroidery....I am always cold and love when springtime comes and I can go sit out in the warm sun....the sun is a happy place for me.  I also love rainbows, and wanted to keep the idea of a encompassing wreath, like the Corning basket had a scant bit is also a feature I adore on the casket lids, the central ladye surrounded by a needle lace or silk purl wrapped wreath of a zillion little pieces.  I went back and forth quite a bit trying to decide should she have feet or not, as you can see
  Stumpwork, weather it be embroidered or beaded, looks crazy intimidating and horribly difficult...but if you think of it not as a finished piece, but as a bunch of little puzzle pieces to make and put together, its really thrilling and mad fun to do. That's how I decided to tackle it, one thing at a time, and in that moment, what I was working on was the whole plan...when I got that finished, on to the next puzzle piece.  Stumpwork is a series of elements added to a background, and built up over many layers to achieve a wonderful three dimensional effect. But I was not using thread and needle on a satin background fabric....I was using beads.      I needed some sort of something in the background I could attach my pieces to, to make up my center panel. To keep it airy and light, I chose to make a netted background that would blend in with the clouds behind my angel, and wouldn't be too horribly gaudy noticeable.
  To start, I took my pattern I drew out, and beaded a wire the width of it~ I started in the center, and worked my way out to the tapered oval ends.  Its just a basic lattice, once I got the first one done, I did one the same, but every other blue bead I passed the wire thru the blue bead of the previous row, to connect them all together.
  I used the 32 g wire from the kit for this, which passed thru my antique pearl beads nicely, but I had to dig around a bit to find a light blue bead I liked that had a large enough hole for two passes of the wire. I went up a couple of bead sizes as you can see, before I found one that would work, and one of the neat things about these early baskets is that they are not made all from the same size of bead...they are a hodge podge of all different types and sizes that really makes them interesting
    This is the first two, the center two rows complete.  The little loops I added to the ends to stitch it to my basket, as I didn't want the ends to show if I wrapped them around the center ring, over the lattice and silk wrapping

  While I was beading the lattice, my pretty girl was drying. I sculpted her head and hands from mache a little larger than my pattern, as it shrinks when it dries. She has two tiny black glass beads for eyes.
    Every so often, I would stretch and bend my lattice to the right shape, and lay it over my pattern to keep track of where I was and how large to make it. When I got to the oval ends, I just omitted the overlap to keep the pattern even
 The complete background netting, ready to go. It was set aside to wait for the clouds, sun, rainbow and angel to be completed before adding to the actual basket. For those, my plan was to use a vellum or card base shape, and couch rows of beads down flat onto that, a technique used on several 17th c baskets.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Garden Lattice & Spiral Edge Wrapping

Let the Bead Stabbing Commence....

 I love the 18th c kitchen gardens with their little white picket fences, and it does seem most probable and fitting they were a carry over from earlier times,  when families grew their own food. Why waste time and energy walking out to a field garden, when you could have it right close to the kitchen. When you wanted a carrot, you just went and picked one....and more importantly, one could keep their EYE on it and be sure no one, human or animal, was helping themselves. This is what the bead work on the Corning Museum reminded me of~ a little white lattice between the panels of pretty flowers and such. It was quite easy, just time consuming to stab all the beads, one by one, onto the wire. I had no want to use a bead spinner~ and if I did, there would be now way to count each and every bead that went on there!  I like knowing these types of things....just exactly how many beads would it take to make one of these????  I know now ;)
   I used the exact pattern from the Corning~ 18 beads for the loop, with 3 beads between each.  To attach I simply wound the tails around the upper edge of the basket, where they would be covered by the spiral wrap. The opposite end with no tail, I stitched down with thread, and worked my way up each piece tacking it down at every large loop.
  At this point, I was quite...quite excited to start the spiral wrapping......until I realized before I could wrap the edge, alllllllllllllllllllllll  those beads had to be strung on the wire. AK!!  So there I stood, literally for DAYS, stabbing beads and counting...stabbing beads and counting. Well, actually, when I first started I was gingerly threading them on....but by the time I was done, Pip remarked at how I was 'stabbing' those beads on.
  Here is a silly picture of me stabbing away. What else can one do, standing at a counter for 8+ hours a day....stabbing beads onto wire~ leg lifts of coarse!  We were given 32 g galvanized wire with the kits, but it was so delicate, for this, I opted to use a bit thicker floral wire for a few reasons~ the holes in these beads were a bit large, so the thicker wire was not only stronger, but they didn't flop around on it as much, and it was a nice dark green, so where you could see the wire peeking out, it wasn't shiny to catch your eye.  I also didn't want the bulk, as well as the difficulty of starting and stopping a bunch of times, so, I only used a single length of wire.
 The spiral wrap is GORGEOUS on these baskets. I loved the Holburne basket's outer edge, loved those colors, so matched them in my beads, and which the red, a sort of pumpkin red, matched my hand dyed silk exactly so how cool is that!  Providence to be sure.  There is no need to count out how many beads to make a pattern, the colors are wrapped on at the same time, each being threaded onto their own wire. The Holburne's pattern was two wraps of each color, so I threaded two wires of cream, 2 wires of pumpkin, and 2 of blue. The tails are left long and wound round the edge of the basket.  I started with the handles first
  The beads are threaded onto their wires, and very carefully, each color at a time, wound round in a loose spiral
 As you can see, I started with the cream, then added the pumpkin and then the blue. I would wrap the cream up a ways, then wrap the pumpkin about the same length , leaving all a bit loose, then when I wrapped the blue, would tighten all as I went so they fit together perfectly with no spaces
 Here I have wrapped the entire handle and have excess. I was careful to count exactly how many beads I removed so my bead count wouldn't get messed up. This was the first handle so I didn't know exactly how many it would take. The other 3 were very close in count, within 10 or so beads each color.  So after the excess beads were removed, I wound the tail around the basket edge, just like when I had started.

 Now....VERY important!  Enlarge this picture to see that  the two lengths of wire I have wrapped around themselves right up to the beads~ this is to keep tension on the beads so the wire is solid beads, with no spaces.  Now...see there is a tail length and then what I am holding is knotted, and knotted again!  You simply MUST give yourself a long tail when wrapping a spiral edge~ as you wrap there will become more and more tension on the beads~ they will become so tight that they will literally explode and shoot off the end of the wire~ no matter how many times you wrap them around themselves~ this is where the knot comes in at the end. It will keep the beads on the wire! Yes, I had two said explosions~ the first time I thought I had just not wound them together enough times (10)....the second, the very end of the wire was knotted into an absolute mess of a knot and it worked perfectly.
 After the handles were wrapped, I started the edge~ from the beads it took to do the handles I was able to calculate how many I would need to go the length I needed for the outer edge....and this is but a fraction~ the length actually goes from the basket, down to the floor on the other side of the counter, loops back up and the ends are there at my feet.  If you are saying crazy, you are correct...but at the time, and even now, it seems more logical to me to do it in one length, than to have to start and stop and try to hide ends of wire!
  I love how the handles turned out
 At center bottom of this photo my 'master knot' can be seen. When I came up on where I started, instead of trying to weave the ends into the beads, I twisted all the lengths together and snipped the tail at about an inch and a half...and left it sticking out.  I didn't want it messing up my pretty spiral wrapped edge, and put it in a place where I knew a part of the panel design would cover it. I marked it on my template as well, and it really helped in locating north, south, east and west of my basket when I was beading the panels.

 Speaking of panels....what one to do first???? As is usual for me, I picked what I thought would be the most difficult and take the longest, the center panel
This is a side view of a casket in the Burrell Collection. I have loved this angel for forever~ She was planned for my casket, which, she may also get onto...but she was for sure to be the delight of my center panel