Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Ornament Kit Going...Going....

  Time Is Running Out!

 ...for you to order your 2017 Limited Edition Ornament Kit, Winter Queen.  My ornament kits are only available for the year in which they were designed, and in this years case,  the materials were so difficult for me to get in quantity, I only have a very limited number of kits left. When they are gone, they are gone!  If you are interested in learning more about Winter Queen,  or ordering a kit ( I can gift wrap for free) you can do so here

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Glorious Finish!!

Well Done Jeanne A!
 Happy Monday! I was going to blog today the second half of my free day during teaching at the Bath Textile Summer School this past August....but a student emailed me a picture of her finished basket yesterday, and I just had to share it! I am so proud of everyone in class~ I really hope they enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed teaching....I think I may have indeed successfully spread my love and obsession with early beadwork to a few...planted a few seeds...and I am very much enjoying watching them sprout & grow!

Jan worked very diligently in class and after, and by Friday, had completed her basket frame. It looks fabulous~ so many possibilities!!

 To say I enjoyed my time in England would be a gross understatement... I loved it.  I will forever after now have tea & biscuits for the morning break, and tea and cakes for the afternoon breaks in all my classes. I have to say a special thankyou to Lynne & Michael for providing our gourmet treats...and to the ladies in class for making the tea!

 I must get me a pair of these magnifiers Ladye Mendy is wearing... they look so much better than my miner head gear I wear.

 The basket is a very involved project~ there are over 50 pages in the step by step instructions...too much to ever get done in a four day class focused on working up the Ladye and detached techniques for flowers.  Just about everyone in class got their Lady's torsos worked~ I love this picture~ what a happy group!

  We spent a morning on making peapods~ a common and popular element on many beaded baskets.

 And here is the glorious finished basket of Ladye Jeanne A!  Seeing a finished piece, the first from class, just makes my heart explode with joy! Jeanne said~

Here is the photo of my completed basket!
It may need the odd little 'tweek' but basically is finished. What a challenge it has been but so enjoyable and a sense of achievement. 

I think Jeanne has done a fabulous job~ you can click on it for a larger picture. Shes got plenty of flowers, and a little kitty cat bead...I love her butterfly at the top, and her colors are wonderful. Really, Really~ great job Jeanne~ I'm so proud of you!  I know you said you didn't think you would ever work another basket, but I hope you'll try these techniques on some smaller projects! Thankyou for taking my class~

Monday, November 06, 2017

Bath Textile Summer School Free Day!

 England Trip...What day is it? Part One
  One of the great things about teaching (or taking) a four day workshop at Bath Textile Summer School, is that there is a planned vacation day in the center of study on you can give your brain a time to relax, or catch up if you are behind. I scheduled a day tour for my 'free' day....and good grief, I was so tired by the time I got back, totally wiped me out but it was fabulous! We started with a trip to Wiltshire to see Stonehenge. It was really magical~ the stones so much larger than I had ever imagined....the field next to it was full of sheep that had just been sheared so that just added to the awesomeness!

  You may have noticed how hard it is to find a payphone here in the US,  now that everyone has a cell phone(not me~ Im still hanging on with all my might to not get one)...England is no different, and it was fun to see the ways the different villages have chosen to use their iconic red phone booths (or tardis)...this one is now an emergency defibrillator booth~ since this little community is a ways from the nearest hospital. If someone is having a heart attack, you can run to this booth and grab the portable defibrillator.

  After Stonehenge, we were off to Avebury to see the Avebury Circle....a Henge larger than Stonehenge, but much less publicized. On our way one of England's famous chalk horses is merrily galloping thru the countryside. They were made in the 18th c by removing the upper layer of turf & soil to reveal the white chalk underneath

 Along the way, my heart was skipping a beat every time I laid eyes on a thatched roof cottage~ this was the back of the cottage...but I didnt care~ what I was interested in is along the ridge line~ the two hares. Thatching roofs is a dying art~ the thatchers grow and harvest their own thatch...since wheat grown for food has pesticides that weaken the stalks. They cut it, bundle it, and then create works of art on top of already beautiful cottages. Many thatchers sign their art, with a thatched figure on the ridge line that is their signature, and theirs alone.
  I left this picture big so you can click on it to enlarge it~ the figures are totally thatched~ you will also be able to see the wire netting strung over all~ this is to keep the thatch in place. Not that it ever falls out, because it doesnt. Having a roof thatched is very expensive .. and while the thatch makes a great waterproof roofing material, the birds also like it to make their own nests out of~ so the wire is to keep the birds from unpicking it.

 We are arriving in Avebury now~ you can see the half buried stones of the circle jetting out in the village. These stones are made from same materials as those at Stonehenge, they have just not been shaped.
  Above is a pic of the aerial  view of the village~ the Henge itself is so large, its hard to tell from the ground its in a circle

 Oh my Golly. Everywhere I walked here was a perfect picture postcard. The gardens are all so green and beautiful! I am so jealous of all ya'll that get to live in England.

 Walking along to the church,  I look up and see not one, but two thatched roofs :::swoon:::::

  And then I realize, the ancient stone wall I am walking alongside, is thatched on the top as well! Truthfully speaking, I could have sat right here for the entire rest of the day..week...month....and been totally happy.

 St. James Parish Church has been on this site since 1000AD.  The aisles were added in the 12th century, the tower in the 15th century. I was thrilled to see the doors open~ who could see that and not go inside?

 Beautiful stained glass and woodwork would have been subject for plenty a photograph...but as I always look at my feet when I am walking, I was much more interested in what was below, than above.  I wish we would have had more time, I would have liked to really study the floor tiles/headstones~ some dating back to yes, the 12 century. This one from a young man, 19 years old, who died April 23rd, 1697.

 After our quick visit at Avebury, we were off to explore the Cotswolds. More thatched cottages....

Another chalk horse. I believe this is the Westbury Horse if I remember right.... it's just about time for lunch so we will stop in Lacock Village...and that, oh my....I will need a separate post for~

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

My Flat Top Casket Progress

Say Hello To My Little Friend......

 Cant believe a month has gone by already. Its November? Wow. My weekends have been somewhat productive~ not as much as I would like, but I'll take what I can get. You may recognize the Ladye in my cartouche from 17th c embroideries~ it was first thought by scholars that she was a portrait of an embroiderer, Elizabeth Coombe...but then when another similar was found...and then another...and another...she is now thought to be 'Flora'...unless of coarse she was drawn as the allegory Victory, holding a palm frond. I thought Ladye Victory was befitting of my casket, so I drafted this pattern myself using several of the early pieces...kind of a combination of all the bits I liked best.
One of the great things I like to point out about my figures, is that the Ladyes have full sculpted in, body down to the waist. This makes getting a period correct body shape a cinch~ as all one need to do is cover the form with either needle lace or beads.  I thought ya'll would enjoy to follow her making up~ so firstly, after her torso is covered, I made her first set of undersleeves and attached her far arm.

 The sleeve came next. When working up a stumpwork figure of any sort, always work from back to front.
The two outside portions of her gown came next. I'm super happy with the peachy colors I choose.

 The center of her gown was next, then it was time for her other sleeve/arm. Twilled undersleeves were made and attached~ the bottom to the panel, and the top portion directly to the sleeve before it was attached to the panel. Her collar and cuffs are right angle weave.

 A twilled scarf in the traditional shaded blues was seemed like I'd never get it long enough. I guess of all, this shawl gave me the most fits, trying to get it to drape right.

 Ladye got a necklace of real seed pearls, and we spent some quality time picking out a hair color.

 Before I could attach her hair tho, I had to make the flower coronet she wears.  If I can give any advice here, it would be that if you think you need 20 leaves...make 30...but better yet, make 35. White flower turned out huge and clunky compared to the others, so it got scrapped for blue one.  I like to lay all my pieces on my pattern roughly how they will fit. I thought I had plenty of leaves, and when I went to assemble the coronet, I was I would make a few more~ plenty I thought....go to add them and they would just get sucked up into I would have to go back and make more.

 I would add a few, then hold it up and see how it looked. I refer back to my drawn pattern and my actual panel often when I am making a detached piece.  Finally, here it is long enough to go on her head...but not quite yet~ I have to work the left side of her hair first

 With left hair complete, coronet gets attached round her pretty face.

 Laying the coronet up against the panel gave her waaaaay to much forehead, so after a placement that I liked, I went back and made a bead hair braid to cover the top of her head.

 Right side hair was then added to finish her. A little primping and sculpting of the wired leaves and she is just what I had envisioned.  I was going to work detached leaves on the left tree, but with her coronet, I think I will leave it as is, and just make a few simple leaves for tree on right.

As much as I am really wanting to work the cartouche...I think I will leave it for a bit... I have a rose garland planned for around the outside of it, so after I get that made, I will better be able to decide if I want a super busy cartouche border, or a plain flat worked one.  There are no adequate words to express how much stitching makes my heart sing~

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

May Ye have more Treats than Tricks this eve!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bath Textile Summer School, Day 2

Class, the Abbey & Roman Baths~ all in same day!
 Second day in class went by like a flash. My students were so polite and attentive~ I had worried that my class of 15 would be too large and not allow me enough time to get round to give each their individual attention, but I think it went well. They caught on and progressed nicely with their Ladies~ they were just a joy to teach and I am so much looking forward to seeing their baskets!

On my lunch I snuck out a bit to enjoy the rest of the Holburne Museum~ they really have a wonderful collection. I particularly like to study original paintings to further my fashion research. Extant children's clothing is really so scant, that I turn to paintings alot to study how particular pieces were originally worn on the body, and to help learn more about the pieces I have here at the Lady's Repository.  I was quite drawn to this painting for details of her gown...but then when I read more, she became even more special.
Firstly, the painter was herself a Ladye, Angelica Kauffmann~ and I dont know many female 18th c painters. But her subject was Henrietta Laura Pulteney,  a name which was familiar to me from the beautiful Pulteney Bridge....and in reading the placard further, Henrietta and her father created Pulteney Street, and the gardens the Holburne Museum is located at.

After class, I visited the Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths~ which share this great courtyard. 
One of the features on the outside of the Abbey that I loved were the Angels climbing down the ladder from Heaven....I want to find a way to incorporate them into my embroidery.

Inside the Abbey is peaceful, yet breathtaking

The Abbey is much older than the ceiling, which was done in fan vaulted stonework in the 1860s. Click the link to the Abbey above and check out the history of it, its really quite remarkable.

 Across from the Abbey,  are the Roman Bath's & Pump Room.

 The entire city of Bath was founded round the Roman Baths~ people would come from far away to take the waters and try to heal their ailments. What is the second level in the picture above, is present day Bath ground level...but the spring below was ground level in Roman times when the temple was built up around the natural. mineral spring

Bath Abbey can be seen behind

 I cant remember if I ever showed the travel box I made for the Bath Arbor Basket on the blog. I needed something to carry it across the pond safely in, so I made this maple box. I painted the rose garland on the lid before I left, because I didnt want it to look so plain for one, and another, to prove what I was bringing home with me, was mine and not something I bought in England. Of coarse I had a vision of painting little vignettes of special places along my trip on the lid and round the sides. (I am no stranger to my visions and reality not matching....)

While I love to paint, there are things I hate painting and so try to never paint....portraits are number one....and number two, is water. Water is my nemesis.... I really really do hate painting water! 
 So I was trying to decide what should go on the lid of my box, and I thought to myself, what is the first thing I think of, my most special moment in Bath? It was laying my own eyes on the Pulteney Bridge with before I even realized what I was thinking, the bridge was already on the box.

As I got to the the reflection below the bridge, little devil on my shoulder was dying laughing at me~ look at all that water he says....and not only water, but a weir to boot!  It turned out hideous...I think it looks like a big shark mouth with layers of teeth.....HA. But what is life if one cannot step back and have a good laugh at their own expense....I knew I should have painted the Holburne Museum on the lid.....

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bath Textile Summer School, Day 1

First Day of Class
 Time for class! After getting my students registered,  there was no time to waste, as I had arranged for us to go up and view the Holburne beaded basket , up close and personal, out of its display case with curator Catrin Jones. 

  Catrin not only brought up the basket, but a casket and other 17th c embroidery she thought the students might enjoy. It was an extra special treat and I appreciated it greatly knowing how busy she was.

 After our viewing it was back to the Clore Room to get busy!  My workshop was four days, Monday and Tuesday, with a day off on Wednesday to let the brain and eyes recoup... then class on Thursday & Friday, 8 hours a day. It may seem like a long time, but its not, especially when working a large project like the Bath Arbor Basket. Students all received a kit with full step by step photo instructions on how to make their own basket...53 pages worth of instructions! Class time would be spent focusing on working the Ladye, and going over in person the techniques for working the frame & flowers. To me, there is nothing like seeing something done in person, no matter how good the written instruction is. 
I started class off with a history of glass, and beads in the 17th c.

This is some of what was in each kit. I hand made each and every frame, as well as sculpted a Ladye figure. 

  I sculpt each figure by hand, directly to fit the embroidery pattern. The afternoon hours of class today were spent walking the students thru the basket's frame construction~ covering the wire with wadding, silk and then wrapping with beads. It was really a great day~ my students were the BEST!

 After class, on the walk home, I stopped by VV Rouleaux, a wonderful ribbon shop that just opened a new store in Bath.

  Amazing ribbons....and feathers! One cannot enter in, and not come out with something....

 I very much enjoyed my walks home after classes...even though it was most all uphill!  Bath is an amazing city....I think I read there are 80,000 residents...but it didnt seem like that many to me. 

  This was the view from my bedroom window~ Thomas Gainsborough stayed at the beautiful house in the center while he lived in Bath in the 1760s

Lynne & Michael Roche, who run & organize the Bath Textile Summer School, we so kind and generous to host me while I was teaching. They put in endless hours of work to make the Summer School a success...they would bend over backwards to accommodate a request. They have both done an amazing job~ something like the Bath Textile Summer School anywhere else would take an entire team of people to organize~ I dont know how they do it. I'd like to publicly thank them for making my experience so enjoyable and stress free. I must also thank Flossie, my new favorite little fur angel~ just the sweetest lil thing on the planet~ for sitting happily on my lap...

 And Freddy~ just the most gorgeous Bengal I have ever seen....he was doing me a great kindness to let me take his picture.

A most wonderful supper to end a most wonderful day~ thankyou Michael & Lynne!