Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today was a Good Day

Just some of the velvets I fell in love with
I know I am on vacation, but I had to tell you that today was a good day.  We have been sad due to some personal news on the Brainstormer front from home for the last few days.  But today was a good day.  A full day in Venice and much of it for myself.  I bolted around the town with a hard-fought list of artisans I wanted to visit.  It is rare to find a store, find it open during the European vacation (and a Catholic holiday to boot) and then in the store to find the actual craftspeople!!  YEA!

One was a famous paper marbler and the other was one of the family owners of the last handweavers of Venitian velvets - Luigi Bevilacqua.  The person I met was their - 'me'.  The technical guy who investigates the old velvets under the microscope, figures out the patterns, sets up the looms, and all things technical.  To say we had a great discussion is a understatement!  Watch this space for more yummy discussions and pictures of how things are made.  I loved it as learned soooo much!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Stitch Along Going Well

So the Casket Stitch Along is going very well!  There are about sixty people using the graphs to work a casket and I have gotten to the point where I have seven out of the 18 panels done for my casket and am working on number eight right now.  This is the newest piece for the casket below.

Right Frieze for all the Casket Types
I was just searching for the pictures of all the other sides and couldn't find them on my hard disk!  So I will have to wait until this next piece is done and post all the panels that have been done for fun!

This latest panel is for two months - September and October, but as the teacher...I have to be done with it Sept 1st so I can have the graph done and up for those waiting for it.  So as I am working on two caskets at the same time - about a panel a month - I had to take it with me on vacation.

Quite a deal to figure out how to do that!  The entire right side of the casket (friezes included) are mounted on one large slate frame.  As we were getting closer to the date to leave, it was becoming obvious that I wouldn't be able to stuff four months of stitching into one and get the Frostings shipment shipped at the same time?  REALLY??  (no I don't have a legion of little mice that come out at night and stitch for me!)  Ok, my husband started insisting that I go to bed by midnight and started saying obviously dumb things like ''why can't you take that with you?'

Easily said than done.  A 26" x 18" slate frame doesn't easily travel on flights.  And this trip - well I will be in eight countries and no less than nine flights.  You can imagine the horror of being told in some small Greek airport that my frame would have to be put in the hold at the gate.  I would freak out.

Reframed and ready to go with a few hours of
added work in Stockholm.
So I finally bit the bullet the night before our leaving and decided to do 'it'.  IT was to cut the piece out of the slate frame and reframe it onto a smaller slate frame, but that meant it would be kinda tight as there is only about 3/4 of an inch between the pieces and two of them were all done and fully stitched (and nicely in square).  So I decided to paste the paper for the finishing process onto the two finished pieces before I removed the tension from the frame.  So off to mix up a bit of the wheat paste, find some of the paper and carefully spread the glue on the back of the paper.  After a minute when the glue was more tacky than wet, I placed the embroidery face down onto a stack of books that had a light towel on them and placed the glue wetted paper over the finished embroidery parts.  Then I pressed them hard into the embroidery with my fingers.  Then again with a light towel on top and a few books for overnight drying.

I was then able to cut off the finished works without them raveling and right at the line I would cut them to paste onto the casket.  That gave me about one half inch of linen to fold over and use to attach the panel to a smaller slate frame.  I happened to have a variety of frames that were made decades ago and lucky... one just the right size for this issue.  Kinda travel sized.

So I have been working this piece daily when I get a chance and have made quite a bit of progress.  It is pretty clear to me that I would never have been able to get it done along with the stump work panel that is waiting for me at home in a 10-day period (plus instructions).  So good thing I was able to figure out a way to 'bring it with me'.

About a week of work in the hot sun (heat wave here)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Animating a Tapestry

If you go to the Landesmuseum Zurich, they have a part of their exhibit on textiles that is incredibly innovative and makes you stop and understand the piece.  I have to admit that I am not that much of a tapestry fan; it is a narrow set of techniques and not my favorite look.  But this exhibit made even my husband sit and listen to the entire description of the piece which was over five minutes long!

It starts with a bench with recessed sets of headphones with narration available in multiple languages.   You sit and watch the four projectors play an animation of light on top of the tapestry.  Having the areas highlighted and moving is really fantastic and can significantly enhance the discussion on the headphones.  I loved it!  More museums should consider this type of effect for large objects with complicated storyline or symbols.  Of course I had many questions - like light levels and protection of the dyes.  But I am sure they had done the trade-offs and it would be interesting to understand.  I haven't ever seen so many people engaged in a tapestry - so it was working!

Projectors beaming onto the tapestry

Animation playing on the tapestry.  The lights not only highlight the areas discussed, but move as well so it looks like water is coming out of the fountain, etc.  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Embroideries at the Landesmuseum Zurich

The Landesmuseum Zurich (National Museum) has been on my list for many, many years to visit while in Zurich and I just never seem to get to do it.  Yesterday, after we recovered from a sleepless night and had only a partial day (and due to the rain in the mountains foiling my husband's elaborate plan to have us hike on zero sleep), I got my wish!

It did not disappoint!  There is a gallery of the permanent collection with about a dozen large embroideries on show as well as tapestries.  The rest of the decorative arts are quite engaging including the complicated globes, mechanical clocks and animatronic watches.  If you go there - plant your husband in front of the touch screen with the videos of how these work and you will get quite a long time with your embroideries.  (I did enjoy watching them as well).

The embroideries include a few samplers but also some large embroidered murals worked between 1590-1630 that really had me sucked in.  Only one of them reminded me of the English work, a four panel piece with the common scenes of the bible worked on all our caskets, mirrors and pictures. In the panel, the Queen of Sheba visits.  The panels were almost all worked in long stitches in silk or wool to cover the entire surface and were quite large (the smallest was 20" x 20") and the largest was about 4 feet square.

Wool embroidery pre-1582.  LM13019 in Landesmuseum Zurich

What really got me excited was the subject matter of two of them, which were listed as typical.  Whereas the embroideries in England are biblical or allegorical in nature, these were domestic scenes!  If you want to know what was being used and common things about everyday life - you look at Dutch genre paintings as all portraits in England were staged and full of symbolism.   They weren't painting what they saw.  In this case, some of the embroiders were stitching things that were common.

One of my favorites was this laundry scene.

AG2369 Scene showing Laundry Day in Landesmuseum Zurich

This large embroidery shows the different steps in the cleaning of laundry as well as the common implements, how the drying fence was constructed, the way their wore their clothes to keep the hems from getting wet, and many more details!  It is fantastic!  I have no idea why it was drawn and worked, but so glad it was as it is an amazing glimpse into life.

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich
The other piece that really got me excited was a huge embroidery with small domestic scenes all over it.  It was so large and the way it was mounted I couldn't get a good picture of it - so here is a link to the museum catalog image.

A partial image of the panel
The piece was reportedly thought to be worked by Luigia Morell in 1601, the daughter of Hans Morell and Barbara Ossenrot who are shown in the center large roundel.  They are surrounded by their children, in-laws and grandchildren in the round scenes.  Luigia is assumed to have worked the piece because she is shown in one embroidering.  The names of the people are in the banners and found in the town records (most were married to members of the Constance middle class and citizens of Eastern Switzerland).  It is an amazing resource to cultural history.  While I couldn't get close enough to it to see many details - I was really taken with the grandchildren or scene of stages of life at the feet of the grandparents in the center.  Here you see a child swaddled, one in a sitting rocker and the third a toddler in something we recognize - a 'walker' like device.  What a great record in embroidery!

Luigia embroidering in a roundel on LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Hans Morell and Barbara Ossenrot, the head of the family (I cut off the labels in the pic) with some assumed grandchildren at their feet.  LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich
A closer view of the presumed grandchildren showing how kids were cared for at the period.  LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thistle Threads Closed for Vacation

Thistle Threads will be closed for vacation between July 27th and August 21st.  

Communications will be very difficult due to the spotty wifi a great deal of hopping around locations.       (That is how it will be a vacation!)

Shipping of orders taken after July 26th will be done when I reopen in late August.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What's in the Frostings Box?

The New Frostings Box!
So this is the spoiler alert - if you are waiting for your box and don't want to know what is inside the box - don't read any farther!  Come back later!!

The Frostings Session 2 box contains six different thread types.  It expands and finishes the color line of the Tiny Silk Purls with the addition of five red family colors, three purples and two blues.  This brings the entire color line up to 40 colors!! So we have a great set of medium sized purls and a wonderful set of tiny purls to select from depending on our project needs and scale.

Tiny Silk Purls in ten colors
For those who want to do stump work and use a wire edge to your motifs, you know how painful it is to either wrap a piece of wire with silk or spend all your time doing a buttonhole stitch around the edge to cover the silver wire.  If there just was a wire that was
already covered in silk!! Well now there is!  I have chosen seven colors to have made as silk covered wires that just disappear in your detached work - easy to cut and put down as a scaffold and then do your needlelace and no more extra work.  It is included in the Frostings box in:  a red, pink, yellow,
yellow green, dark green, blue and purple.
Seven colors of silk wrapped wire

Looking for an alternate to braiding your own tiny strings for purses or edgings?  The Frostings box has a new round braid with either gold or silver in the braid.  Included this time in red or black in each of the two metal variants.  They will be so useful for blackwork or redwork projects.  I already have one Frostings project underway to use one for you - watch for it in August!

Red and Black silk braids with gold or silver
And we have a new gimp thread for couching down.  Crinkle Gimp is a thin gimp that has been wrapped with a second gimp to make it more bumpy.  It can be sewn through the fabric if you use a big enough eyed needle.  I love this for making clouds, grass, or water as well as giving the fuzzy look of feathers.  It is extremely variable because wrapping one gimp with another can have the second gimp squish or expand as the machine spools.  If you like it more smooth or bumpy, run your fingernail one way or another to compact or pull out the
Crinkle Gimp
overwrap to give it the look you want.

The last two threads are related, silk covered plate which I see on stump work all the time.  This is the 11S size of gilt plate and it is covered in three different greens to make a smooth and bendable covering.  Use it for grass and couch it down with gimp or purls to make amazing patterns that are textured, contrasting the threads against the smooth silk plate.  And once you have silk covered plate, you can make crenelated plate! This is just the coolest thread and I have been getting emails from people who want more of it in the greens or more colors!

Crenelated Silk Wrapped plate in three green colors
There will be projects in the early fall and these threads are currently part of the Harmony with
Nature Casket Stitch Along as well.  About 160 of the kits are still available.

Silk wrapped 11S plate in three green colors

Friday, July 14, 2017

They are Here!

Packing the frostings boxes in process!
For those in the know, you know that the Frostings Boxes were delayed as the first printing was done wrong and it took an extra four weeks to redo it all.  Ugh.

The boxes arrived a full day early and so we were packing and making labels until the wee hours last night!  1/3 of the boxes went out this morning - I am very excited!!  I have a big workforce of robot kids arriving in minutes and we expect to maybe even finish today!  So be on the watch for those exciting threads.