So now that I have regaled you with my celebrity sighting, the opening of a new shop and a picture of cute, young guy hard at work, let me tell you about another needlepoint day in my visit to the Bay Area.
What could be better than a field trip? In addition to my membership in NJNA, I belong to a few other chapters, that I “attend” mostly online and through email. If I could stay up late enough, I could attend some via zoom, but I’m an early bird. Back to topic. The only other chapter I attend in person is the Golden Gate Canvas Workers, a chapter that is soon to be 40 years old and based out of San Mateo, CA. As you can imagine, I don’t get to too many meetings, but when I do, they never disappoint.
I was very lucky this visit to be there during a regular meeting time. However, this was no regular meeting. About a dozen chapter members took a field trip into downtown San Fransisco. What a treat. Side benefit, not being from the area, I did not have to be one of the drivers. So three cars of chattering stitchers went into the city. First stop, the retail shop of Needlepoint Inc.
As many of you stitchers know, Needlepoint Inc, produces a luscious stranded silk thread in a Crayola style of many, many colors. In addition, Needlepoint Inc. (hereafter known as NI) does finishing of every variety and maintains a retail shop. In previous days, the shop was located in Ghirardelli Square, but has since moved to a location in the financial district. As soon as we entered the shop, one saw wall to wall samples of finished projects in every way imaginable. It was such a sight that I had no idea where to look next. Of course, it was also hard to miss the entire wall of NI silk thread. There are some varieties of thread from Rainbow Gallery and Kreinik as well, but the highlight is their own silk. The store is filled with many, many canvases, so a stitcher cannot go away empty handed. The owner came out to greet and chat with us and was very generous by allowing us observe work that was going on. That meant that we got to watch the finishers at work. How fascinating. I was taken in by the sewing machine that was sewing by itself. What I didn’t realize was that, that machine was busy monogramming. While that was going on, we watched an ornament being finished before our very eyes! So interesting. Enjoy some of the pictures below.
After a really yummy lunch, we then ventured to the San Fransisco School of Needlework and Design. I had been to their old location, and was wowed then. Since my last visit, they moved (within walking distance of Needlepoint Inc.) and was I in for a treat. Their new location is divine. I immediately had the same reaction I had the first time – where do I look first? My eyes could not help traveling all over the place. There was so much eye candy. I heartily recommend that you look at their website (https://www.sfsnad.org) to get the professional photos of what my humble snapshots tried to capture.
The school takes up a floor and has many breakout classrooms in addition to the shop and exhibit areas. There are very large windows giving lots of light, but when not in use, the windows have black out shades to protect the fibers from the sunlight. The collection room is thermally controlled with dim lighting to preserve the very old pieces that are housed there. There is a curator on staff, who researches and studies the pieces that are to be exhibited. While there, we saw some of the works for the next exhibit and they were breathtaking. They know who the stitcher is, but are still scant on details about her life. Perhaps by the time the exhibit runs, there will more to report.
In addition to being a school, running a myriad of classes, the organization has a permanent collection of really old and beautiful embroidered pieces as well as traveling exhibitions. I was lucky enough to see two different exhibits as well as talk to the curator of the next exhibit. There are jars and drawers filled with every thread imaginable as well as so many samples hanging on the walls. The course offerings go from intro classes to multi leveled studies that give you a certificate in a particular area of needlework. There were some methods of which I had never heard, but there were also the basics of embroidery, goldwork and the like. I know that if I ever move permanently to the Bay area, I will live at SNAD, just taking classes. There is an extensive library (mostly donated by patrons) with so many books on a variety of subjects. The school is still taking donations for their library, except for needlepoint books. Their collection is quite extensive already! The shop is filled with new items such as books, embroidery hoops, stands and bundles of silk thread put together in packets by color range. There are also donated painted canvases that are sold at a fraction of suggested retail as well as used tools. All proceeds go back into the running of SNAD. I wish I could be more explicit in all of my explanations, but I was too busy wandering around and looking, that I have to admit, I missed some of what was being said. The school accepts donations of every variety of thread, so that the student just has to go to the cabinet and find what they are looking for.
Last visit, I was privileged to see many bands for the longest band sampler, that SNAD is amassing. The woman touring me was amazed when I told her that I knew several of the stitchers of the bands. When I inquired this visit where the sampler was, I was told that the bands were out with volunteers who are sewing them together so that the bands could truly be the longest sampler. Hopefully the next time I visit, I will see it. The making of the sampler bands is on-going and anyone can participate. Please just check the website and/or call the school to inquire how you might make and donate one.
There are usually two exhibits going on at the same time. These exhibits rotate. One is a visiting exhibit and it hangs in the Hanging Thread Gallery. The one I observed did not even seem real. The work was breathtaking. The artist was from India and is named Asif Shaikh. He exhibited on the resurgence of needlework artistry in India. I will show you a few snapshots, but this work is better viewed on the website. Truly, do not miss this. The exhibit closes at the end of November.
The second exhibit is the Corridor Exhibit. This exhibit can only be viewed by walking around the hallway that is square with the classrooms on either side. It is usually a challenge that the school puts out and one creates their interpretation of the theme. The current exhibit is called “Purple Reign”. It was originally promoted as a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. However, since then, it has taken on the tone of a memorial. The pieces are all original designs and I think most of them are really clever. Please enjoy the photos below.
Here are some pictures of classroom samples:
This is a sample of one of the pieces being curated for the next exhibit.
This is a teaching sample of a new piece designed by Lucy Barter, one of the founding members of the school.
Many, many thanks to SNAD for allowing me to take all these photographs. I really am sincere when I suggest that you go to SNAD’s website and look at all their eye candy. I also highly suggest that you arrange to take a field trip with some like minded folks. It was truly a wonderful. wonderful day.