Category Archives: Travel

Winterthur Conference – Day 1

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Winterthur 2018 Conference

Today is the first day of the Winterthur Conference Embroidery: The Thread of History. Approximately 200 people are in attendance, representing a number of states. The focus of the conference is how embroidery serves as a historical record of the socioeconomic issues of the time, allowing for a view of embroidery from a historian’s perspective. The exhibit of the same name is on view from October 5, 2018 to January 6, 2019.

The morning agenda was four fabulous talks on very different topics. We started with Tricia Wilson Nguyen of Thistle Threads whose program was Materials for Historically Inspired Needlework. Tricia spoke about creating threads and other materials for adaptions in order to make the reproduction as accurate as possible. In addition to showing extensive slides of historic needlework, she discussed the economics of producing materials for a limited market.

The second speaker was Virginia Whelan, a textile conservator and owner of Filaments Conservation Studio. Her talk, entitled Material Witnesses: Testimony of Embroidery, focused on how she was able to trace information about furniture, cotton manufacturing, and Independence Hall by using information extracted from the study of three different samplers given to her for conservation.

The third speaker was Joan DeJean, Trustee Professor of French at the University of Pennsylvania, who spoke on The Price of Beauty: Embroidery and Louis XIV’s Versailles. She discussed the role of embroidery in the rise of Paris as the center of fashion during the reign of Louis XIV and his construction of Versailles. She spoke about the loss of the wonderful tapestries that used to hang in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors as well as the garments created for Louis XIV (the Sun King), because he needed the gold and silver threads used in their creation to finance his wars.

Our final speaker before lunch was Sally Tuckett, Lecturer in Dress and Textile Histories at the University of Glasgow, who spoke on the Ayrshire whitework industry. Needle Crusaders: The Ayrshire Whitework Industry in Nineteenth-Century Scotland described the production of this popular alternative to lace through a cottage industry. In the mid-nineteenth century it employed thousands of Scottish and Irish women but by the end of the century the industry had fallen into decline due to changing fashion as well as advances in textile manufacture.

After lunch the attendees participated in a variety of workshops that included tours as well as needlework projects, either 90 minutes or 3 hours. I was able to attend a 90-minute tour of the needlework collection on public view at Winterthur.

Bodice and Upholstery

The bodice on the chair and the sofa are the same pattern because the sofa was upholstered in the skirt originally attached to the bodice.

Lace

Lace

Sampler

Sampler

 

Needlework Box

Sewing Box

Needlework Frame

Sampler on Frame

We were also able to visit the study room and see some of the pieces in the collection that are not on public view.

My second workshop was to participate in stitching the Plymouth Tapestry. Rather than paraphrase I will quote directly from the brochure:

A large-scale embroidered tapestry telling the story of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is being created for Pilgrim Hall Museum, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the 1620 founding of Plymouth Colony. The Plymouth Tapestry will portray the experiences, familiar and unfamiliar, of the English settlers who arrived on the Mayflower, and the Wampanoag families who inhabited the region for millennia before their arrival. The tapestry is a visual exploration of history, memory, and cosmology, depicting the culture and everyday life of the Wampanoag, English, and American peoples who have inhabited this unique place.

The multimedia thread-on-linen embroidery will be comprised of twenty, six-foot-long panels. Three of these panels will be at Winterthur, where embroiderers (beginner to experienced) will have an opportunity to participate in the project. Elizabeth Creeden, who designed and drew the tapestry, will lead the work. For those who wish to learn more or simply witness the work in progress, she will also be available to describe the steps required to plan such a heroically scaled project.

The Plymouth Tapestry is a signature project of Pilgrim Hall Museum, repository of many of the real 17th-century belongings of the Pilgrims and will be exhibited in conjunction with Plymouth’s 400th anniversary commemoration in 2020.

I was able to put in some yellow stem stitching on the banner edges on the panel that includes the image of Henry VIII. The stem stitch on the top from “excommunicates” to “publishes” is my stitching, as is the bottom line in between Henry’s legs. Each stitcher signs the Record of Stitchers and there is a full-size drawing of each of the panels that each stitcher indicates exactly what (s)he stitched. It is an amazing undertaking and I was honored to be able to be a small part of it.

My Stitching 1

My Stitching 2

Tomorrow morning I will be touring the exhibit at a leisurely pace since I have no workshops scheduled. After lunch we will hear from four more speakers. At the end of the conference I will be heading home so tomorrow’s blog may have to wait until Sunday to be posted.

 

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Winterthur Conference – Day 0

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Yes, I am at another needlework event. For the next two days I will be attending the Winterthur conference Embroidery: The Thread of History.

After the NJNA October Meeting last night I finally got home, unpacked from the Stitcher’s Hideaway Retreat (see my previous blogs), and repacked. I left early this morning so that I could stop at The Strawberry Sampler in Glen Mills, PA before heading over to Winterthur. It is a very well-stocked shop (cross-stitch, punch needle, and framing) in a shopping center with plenty of parking. I did a bit of browsing and picked up a few more charts (I think I now have to live to about 250 so that I can at least start everything). Check out the link as I did not get a chance to take pictures.

The Brandywine Valley is an interesting area – lots of history and very pretty scenery. It was a perfect day to drive down two-lane roadways. I was concerned a few times when my GPS directed me onto what appeared to be a residential street, but all worked out. Mr. M and I visited this area a few times decades ago; I think it’s time to go back and really explore the area again.

The conference starts tomorrow morning (watch for more blogs). Due to popular demand the organizers added a third tour of the Delaware Historical Society today as the other two time slots were filled quite quickly. The tour allowed participants to view the Society’s sampler collection, which is not on public display, and included a lecture by Jennifer Potts, Curator of Objects, Delaware Historical Society, and Cynthia Steinhoff, co-author of Delaware Discoveries: Girlhood Embroidery, 1750–1850.

Winterthur Sign

My photos of the samplers are a little difficult to see due to glare on the glass, so I won’t  them here. You’ll have to look through the book when it’s published (hopefully, by the end of this year)!

 

 

A New Shop – MA Edition

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Wednesday was a travel day for me as I made my way back from Sturbridge, MA to New Jersey. It was another bright clear autumn day – perfect for the ride home from New England.

I did, of course, have to make a stop at the new Bush Mountain Stitchery shop in Palmer, MA, just a short ride from Sturbridge. Maeann and Gary have opened a new store right on Main Street with cross stitch charts, fabrics, framing, accessories, and lots of threads!

The new shop is about 7100 square feet and they are still unpacking boxes so not everything is displayed yet.  And a few things were out of place due to the very successful Grand Opening event the previous weekend. I’m told about 200 people showed up for the two-day event.

But that didn’t stop me from spending two hours looking around at all the goodies that are already unpacked. During the course of my visit at least eight other Stitcher’s Hideaway attendees also made the stop.

I purchased a few new charts and some linen in great colors, including a Bush Mountain Balsam, which is an exclusive. Can’t wait to sort through my goodies!

Congratulations to Maeann and Gary on the new store!

Bling in the Holidays – Day 1

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Today finds me at the Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, MA. I am attending the Stitcher’s Hideaway fall retreat – Bling in the Holidays with Thea Dueck of The Victoria Sampler.  I am a big fan of Thea’s pieces and she is a fabulous teacher, so I try not to miss any opportunity to take her classes.

We received our pre-work package in early September. Somehow I actually managed to finish the pre-work well ahead of schedule. Here’s the project when I arrived. This is stitched on 28-count Clay Cashel Linen.

Project Prework

Today we concentrated on all the specialty stitches – Partial Rhodes, Smyrnas, and Mosaics, to name a few. Thea provides videos of the stitch demonstrations in the class, which she then posts as YouTube videos for future reference.  It really helps a lot when there is a large group as everyone can see the demonstration.

So here is the project after today (and I am, thankfully, all caught up).

Project Day 1

Tomorrow we decorate the tree with all the bling!

Tonight we also had a gift exchange – those who wish to participate bring in a handmade gift. However, there is no stealing!  These are all the lovely gifts that were part of the exchange.

Ornament Exchange

This is the gift I received. I love these little ornaments and aren’t the scissors just adorable?

Christmas Tree Ornament

And here is the pillow I made. The recipient was appreciative of my effort. I am pretty pleased with it, considering that I could be categorized as a pre-beginner seamstress.

Merry Christmas Pillow

Tomorrow night we will have Show-and-Tell, which is always exciting. Stay tuned for more progress!

Bling in the Holidays – Day 2

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Today was a beautiful clear New England autumn day. It was delightful walking about (even if it was just from my room to the stitching room) in the crisp dry air. For those who have not been to Sturbridge, I’ve included a few pictures of the Publick House grounds.

Today’s class was all about the bling! Thea handed out accessory packets with beads, sequins, gingerbread cookies, and other embellishment goodies. Her videos this morning provided tips on attaching the various pieces to the tree. We were then left to our own creativity to attach the bling.

We started with Gold Rush couched with Kreinik for the garland. We then laid out our own bling scheme, taking pictures as needed so that we had a reference for attaching later on. Here is what mine will look like (more or less). I may still move a few pieces around before finally attaching.

Project Proposed Layout

Here’s my progress at the end of the day today. I did get my garland attached as well as all the beads in the snowflakes surrounding the trees. And I attached my lights, which are a little big so we’re considering them ornaments.

Project Day 2

I’ll attach the rest of the bling when I am at home where I can see the beads and have a large space to work on.

After dinner many of the attendees brought in pieces for Show-and-Tell. As always I was blown away by the fantastic projects and gorgeous stitching. Here’s just a sample of the pieces that were shown.

These retreats really are a great deal of fun and I look forward to attending more in the future.

Tomorrow I am heading to Bush Mountain Stitchery in Palmer, MA (just down the road), which had its Grand Opening last weekend. After that I’ll be heading to New Jersey for a night at home (after the NJNA October Meeting, of course). I’ll be blogging about Bush Mountain but it will likely wait until Thursday.

Needlework Exhibit

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This past weekend Mr. M and I made one of our trips out to Pittsburgh to visit with Nora.  She is staying there this summer as she is working as a TA for an Organic Chemistry class as well as continuing her job at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center as a research assistant. Since she won’t be able to travel back to New Jersey until August, we celebrated Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and our wedding anniversary (39 years) at one time.

We had a great time visiting and even got to attend the Three Rivers Arts Festival on Saturday.  Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Dollar Bank, this is a 10-day music and arts festival in downtown Pittsburgh with free music, theater, dance, public art installations, gallery exhibitions, a visual artist market, creative activities, and food. There are well over 200 exhibitors over the course of the 10 days – many local artists/artisans but many from as far away as California. The Festival takes place every year starting on the first Friday in June.

While there we came across one vendor, Silk Handmade Embroidery Arts out of Depew, NY, selling silk embroidered art that was absolutely amazing. You may have seen them at the Morristown Craft Fair. We did purchase one piece for Nora’s apartment.

Needlework

Irises and Butterflies

On our drive back on Sunday we stopped at the Fort Hunter Museum & Mansion in Harrisburg to visit the Needle Art Exhibit presented by the Apple Needlepoint Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, and the Molly Pitcher StitchersSusquehanna, Nittany ValleyYork White Rose and Lancaster Red Rose chapters of the Embroiderers Guild of America. There were more than 50 pieces of needlework, including painted and counted canvas, pulled/drawn thread, Japanese embroidery, Rozashi, counted cross stitch, and hardanger. The pieces were placed in several rooms throughout the mansion, which itself was a treat. I was not able to take pictures of the pieces but there were a number that I recognized, including a few that I have either completed or are in my collection for “someday”. There were even a few pieces for sale. Congratulations to the ANG and EGA chapters for mounting this wonderful exhibit, and to their members on such spectacular stitching!

The Needle Art Exhibit runs through next Sunday (June 17). ANG and EGA members held demonstrations on Saturdays.

There are four antique samplers on view as part of the collection, and quite a bit of clothing worn by Helen Reily, one of the owners of the property (think Gilded Age). The property is quite extensive with several buildings and gardens, but the weather was not cooperative. The mansion is beautifully maintained and well-worth a visit if you are in the area.

Happy Stitching!

Woodlawn Report

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At last I have a few moments to write about our trip to the 55th Annual Needlework Show & Sale at Woodlawn.  The last few days have been quite an adventure – no power until Monday morning, followed by a scheduled loss of power Monday night into Tuesday morning, and then yet another storm!

We drove down on Friday through the nor’easter that pummeled the East Coast.  It was slow going along the New Jersey and Delaware Turnpikes with pelting rain and, at time, some wet snow.  We finally caught a break in Maryland when the precipitation stopped but by then the winds had picked up and we were buffeted as we drove, particularly on the bridges.

We stopped in Falls Church for lunch at the Mad Fox Brewing Company.  They have quite a variety of sandwiches and salads, and Mr. M enjoyed the beer. And, it is only 15 minutes from Waste Knot Needlepoint in Arlington. I had emailed Lori, the owner, before our trip to get some threads I needed.  Of course, Mr. M managed to pick out two new canvases to add to the inventory!  So I now have Santa’s Workshop from CH Designs and Easter Bunny from Robbyn’s Nest Designs to add to my list.

Waste Knot Needlepoint has a wonderful inventory of canvases and threads, and they are always a pleasure to visit. The shop will be moving this month – their last day at the current location is March 17 and they are hoping to reopen at their new location on April 2. They will be just around the corner at 2100 N. Glebe Road in Arlington.  I’m already looking forward to visiting!

We arranged to meet Nora in Bethesda on Friday evening (she took the bus from Pittsburgh). I made a wrong turn heading from the hotel in Alexandria to Bethesda and had quite the time getting corrected. The Nav System didn’t know about the winds and all the downed trees/closed roads, so I had to keep diverting off the route. Usually we get to the drop-off location about 40 minutes early but the diversions resulted in us arriving at about the time the bus was due (7:15 pm). Wouldn’t you know – the bus was actually 30 minutes early! Fortunately the bus waited for all the students to meet their rides.

Saturday was clear but windy and chilly. Our first order of business was to head over to Woodlawn for the exhibit. This year there are a few local artisans set up in the reception area, which made for a nice entrance. There are about 410 entries this year (not 660 as I previously reported as the numbering started from 100 and not 1, and numbers were skipped). I found last year’s program and it looks like there were about 390 entries, so a slight increase.

As usual the pieces were outstanding. I think there are less samplers this year and more stumpwork, but that may just be how everything is displayed.  I was disappointed that all of our Feuilles d’Ananas arenot displayed together but that may be because two of the four are finished as pillows.  There are a few exhibitors from other areas who submitted the same piece with a completely different center! It would have been interesting to see all of the pieces together.

I was very pleased to see five of the 19 entries from NJNA earned awards! While we all know that NJNA is home to outstanding stitchers it is gratifying to know that the judges recognize our members’ skills.

In addition to the submitted pieces one can wander through “exhibits within the Exhibit”. One room contains absolutely stunning Japanese embroidery pieces, entitled “Exploring the Art of Japanese Embroidery”, which showcases pieces by Antonia Evans, an instructor from Silver Spring, and her students. I was awestruck by the beauty of these pieces.

A second exhibit entitled “Snakes & Ladders” includes embroidered photographs of Dawn Whitmore, a Virginia-based documentary photographer and visual artist. According to the program, the pieces are “a modern musing based on her fear of snakes.”

The third exhibit includes the works of Mary Duckworth, who was a longstanding member of Nelly’s Needlers as well as a designer, teacher, judge, and shop owner. Many of the pieces that she designed and stitched are exhibited along with some of the awards she received. Interestingly, one stitcher submitted two pieces based on a Mary Duckworth design for this year’s Exhibit. The exhibit includes the original piece as well as the later interpretations. Make sure you take a look at Mary’s Survival Kit!

I urge all of you to visit Woodlawn if you have the chance. There are so many wonderful stitchers who share their work. And, let’s continue to show NJNA’s support for this wonderful Exhibit.