Monday, November 17, 2014

Posey Casket Toy- Winterthur workshop

So far, I have finished a strawberry (with tiny bullion knot seeds) and a daisy-type flower.  I am already getting ideas for how I want to use this technique in my own work in the future.  I absolutely LOVE how sculptural it is!  I also am dying to try out some lily-of-the-valley blossoms, though I know this does not surprise anyone!  

In our workshop Ms. Nguyen, showed us some examples of different casket toys that she has seen in private and museum collections.  One of the strawberries shown had seeds in bullion knots (all others were seed stitch) and everyone was remarking how difficult that would be.  I had to give it a shot!  It was not easy for certain, but I loved the challenge of it! 

I found it difficult for a couple different reasons:
- Using the Soie Ovale thread which is a filament silk (no twist) made it a little tricky, especially with my needle-hole-ridden finger tips which want to catch the silk. 
- The size of the strawberry also caused it to be a bit fiddly.  The strawberry is only 3/4" in length, so trying to hold it and get the correct tension on the bullion knot proved challenging.
- It was also my first attempt of doing bullion knots on an object.  It just feels different than having a flat surface stretched on a frame.  

Overall, I'm pretty happy with them.  Some of the bullion knot seeds turned out better than others.  I have a couple that the tension went a bit too bubbly.  I love the effect of the bullion knots for the seeds though!  They add a bit of texture and color.  I am thinking of maybe trying the next strawberry with metallic bullion knot seeds.  I think it would be interesting to see how the metallic looks and reacts on such a small scale. 

Winterthur Needlework Conference

A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful experience of attending the Diligent Needle: Instrument of Profit, Pleasure, and Ornament Needlework Conference at Winterthur in Delaware.  HERE is a link to the exhibition that was the catalyst of this conference. 

It was my first time at Winterthur and my first time at a needlework conference.  It was so much fun!!! And, I already hope that I can go to the next one!  I have to admit that I was super excited about going (you can ask any one of my students!).  I found through my graduate degree that my making and my historical research go hand and hand.  The making informs the research and the research informs the making.  If I try to only focus on one for too long, it starts to feel anemic to me.  I love the stories that stitching encompasses.  I love learning about the politics, the people, the economics that effected the development of a technique.  But, I am a maker at heart, and I cannot stop at only reading about how others used the technique.  I want to try it out for myself too!
Here are a list of the lectures:
Rescuing Domestic Crafts from the Condescension of Posterity
by Amanda Vickery, Historian, Writer,and Broadcaster, Professor in Early Modern History, Queen Mary, University of London

The Workers Behind the Work: 17th-Century Caskets and the People Who Made Them
by Tricia Wilson Nguyen, Owner of Thistle Threads, Arlington, Massachusetts

The Mystery of Rebecca Dickinson: A Puzzle at the Intersection of Gownmaking, Crewel Embroidery, and the Biographical Imagination
by Marla Miller, Professor and Director of Public History Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Threads of Time: The Needlework Samplers of Aging Women, 1820–60
by Aimee Newell, Director of Collections, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts

Geography in Silk and Wool: Embroidered Maps and Globes
by Judith Tyner, Professor Emerita of Geography, California State University, Long Beach

Records of Purpose and Pleasure: Quilts and Needlework from the Early South
by Kimberly Smith Ivey, Curator of Textiles and Historic Interiors, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

The Duke of Westminster’s “Umpire-in-Chief ”: Gertrude Jekyll and the Embroidered Furnishings for Eaton Hall, Cheshire
by Lynn Hulse, Textile Historian, London

“…To Give It Room Enough to Grow”: Erica Wilson’s Career as Twentieth-Century Needlework Entrepreneur
by Anne Hilker Sack, Ph.D. Candidate, Bard Graduate Center, New York

To complement the lectures, we were able to choose from a number of different workshop and tours.  I chose the Needlework of Winterthur tour, the Behind the Scenes of the Downton Abbey tour, and the Posey Casket Toy workshop as I wanted to do a hands-on workshop.   The Needlework tour was an excellent opportunity to see numerous pieces of embroidery housed in the Winterthur collection.  We were able to see many examples of samplers, crewelwork, silk shading, mourning embroidery, and quilting.  Being an avid Downton Abbey fan, I loved seeing the costumes!  It was great hearing the behind-the-scenes of creating the exhibition and learning about all the steps needed for a successful exhibition.  Here are a few photos of my favorites from the different exhibitions.

This was my favorite piece from the Diligent Needle exhibition:
I loved the subtle use of blue with the black. 

From "Costumes of Downton Abbey":
Detail of Lady Edith's wedding dress

Lady Edith's wedding dress

Evening gown worn by Lady Mary

Pieces from the Winterthur Collection:

Detail from previous embroidery. 

Detail from the previous embroidery.  I loved the depiction of the dress and use of spangles!

Pin cushion

I have followed Tricia Nguyen and Thistle Threads for quite some time and her research into 17th Century stumpwork (my next favorite topic after metal embroidery!), so I was extremely excited to meet her and have the opportunity to take a workshop with her.  During the workshop, she showed us a number of photos of historic casket toys including numerous flowers, a snake, and a dog.  Here is the link to the workshop description on her blog and below is her photo of the final piece.
A Posey Casket Toy by: Tricia Nguyen of Thistle Threads
I actually did the Posey Casket Toy twice, which ended up being a great opportunity as I was able to see additional photos and ask more questions.  It was wonderful to meet so many stitching enthusiasts!   I am already looking forward to the next conference in 2016!